"The Bush administration acted illegally when it opened millions of acres of U.S. national forests to road-building and logging, a federal appeals court ruled on Wednesday.
The U.S. Appeals Court for the Ninth Circuit effectively reinstated a 2001 rule that bars development in recognized 'roadless' areas of national forests, except in Idaho and the Tongass National Forest in Alaska.
'The court today confirmed protections for these wild forests and rivers that Americans love and cherish,' said Kristen Boyles, a lawyer with Earthjustice, who litigated the case on behalf of 20 environmental groups.
'These are areas where we get our clean water, where we hike and hunt, take our families camping,' Boyles said by telephone from Seattle. 'We can all cheer that the court today protected national roadless areas.'
The original 2001 rule was struck down in 2005 by the Bush administration, which offered an alternative that allowed states to petition to build roads and do logging on national forest land. Legal challenges to this change kept all but a tiny handful of projects from being built.
Wednesday's decision was hailed by environmental groups as protection for about 50 million acres (20 million hectares) of forest and grasslands."
"Clinton-era Rule Protecting Forests Upheld" (New York Times)
"Court Restores Restrictions on Road-Building in National Forests" (Los Angeles Times)
"Federal Court Reinstates Protections for National Forests" (LA Times/San Jose Mercury News)