Court Says “Yes” to Idaho Roadless Rule, and Maybe More?
PHOTO: The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the Idaho Roadless Rule. Photo of the White Cloud Mountains by MB Whitaker.
January 9, 2013
BOISE, Idaho - After years of court cases, the answer is "yes" for Idaho's Roadless Rule, the management blueprint for more than 9 million acres of backcountry in national forests.
Idaho was the first state to design a plan after meetings with stakeholders, and Jonathan Oppenheimer, senior conservation associate for the Idaho Conservation League, says the ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals validates the collaboration. It's also a model copied for management of national forests around the state.
"Communities are coming together - conservation interests, local county commissioners, along with the timber industry and motorized interest groups - to try to find common ground. I think this is really a validation of those kinds of efforts."
Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter mentioned the agreement in his State of the State address this week. The Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Greater Yellowstone Coalition and other conservation groups had challenged the rule, claiming that it allowed too much access for timber sales and mining.
Oppenheimer says they're working to take protection a step further in some of those backcountry areas by seeking official wilderness designations.
"That's certainly one of the core interests of the Conservation League and many conservationists around the state, to see permanent congressional protection for a number of these areas that really are truly unique."
The Boulder-White Clouds wilderness proposal, called the Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act (CIEDRA), is one example. It has been reintroduced by U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, and Oppenheimer says there are hopes this will be the year for the legislation. Congress ended 2012 as the only year that no wilderness was designated since implementation of the Wilderness Act of 1964.
The text of the decision is online at ca9.uscourts.gov.