Brown Wins "Roadless Rule" Victory, Protecting 40 Million Acres of Forest Land from Development

Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Contact: (415) 703-5837, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

Sacramento – Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today won a “profoundly important decision,” protecting 40 million acres of pristine forest land from development by reinstating a 2001 rule banning road building and commercial logging that had been repealed by the Bush Administration.

“This is a profoundly important decision because it brings to a halt the ill-considered development plans of the Bush Administration and preserves for generations to come 4.4 million acres of prime California forest,” said Brown.

The reinstatement of the 2001 'Roadless Rule' confers permanent protection on 40 million acres of pristine and near-pristine national forest land through prohibitions on road building and commercial logging. A portion of the protected land – 4.4 million – is in national forests in California.

The “Roadless Rule” was adopted at the end of the Clinton administration after years of study and public review. The rule generated more favorable public comment than any administrative action in the history of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Bush administration, however, wasted no time in launching a legal assault on the “Roadless Rule.” Initially, the administration failed to defend the rule from legal challenges and timber and oil/gas industry attacks, and ultimately repealed it in 2005 without conducting its own environmental analysis.

In response to the Bush Administration’s efforts to undo the rule’s protections, the California Attorney General's office, along with New Mexico, Oregon and Washington, filed a lawsuit in 2005 in the Northern District of California Court to reinstate the rule.

In 2007, the Northern District of California issued a decision agreeing that the rule had been unlawfully repealed and reinstated it nationwide. However, the Bush Administration immediately appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals seeking to overturn the decision. Today’s ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reaffirmed the Northern District’s 2007 decision.

The ruling is attached.

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PDF icon 9th Circuit ruling135.76 KB