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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Roadless Fed Forests Protected Despite Crazy Courts

With courts split, Vilsack acts to preserve Roadless Rule

--Agriculture Secretary extends protections for another year

While federal courts continue to wrangle over the legality of the Clinton-era Roadless Rule governing national forests the Obama administration in May acted once again to safeguard the nation's inventoried roadless areas.

On May 28 Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack issued an interim directive preserving roadless area protections for one more year.

"While the courts continue to wrestle with roadless policy," Vilsack said, "I will continue to work to ensure we protect roadless areas on our national forests."

The initial rule protected some 58 million acres of mostly forested roadless areas on federal lands — including 4.1 million acres of national forests in California — from logging, mining, development and road building.

Last summer the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the 2001 Roadless Rule. The Rule currently is under appeal in the 10th Circuit. A decision on that case could come any day.

"Renewing this directive reflects President Obama's commitment to protecting our forests by ensuring that all projects in roadless areas receive a higher level of scrutiny," Vilsack said.

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