7 thoughts on “2001 Roadless Upheld in 10th Circuit”

  1. That you regard NEPA as “stale”, (consistent with your many past remonstrations and Martin Nie’s characterizations of citizen defense of laws as “pathological”) over many of the foundational laws the agency you work for must abide by, calls into question, “Where, exactly does the Problem lie?”

    Is our system of laws, the judiciary, the citizens who demand their government follow those laws, as you routinely complain about, really the source of the Problem as you see it Sharon? After all, will changing those laws reasonably result in fixing the constellation of environmental problems (many for which your agency has already issued mea culpas for) be the Big Fix?

    It has been my conclusion that if we had a moral economic policy in effect in the first place, there would not be this terminal environmental decline, and no need for the environmental movement. If we had accountable, effective, adequately funded regulatory agencies which applied the precautionary principle (especially in light of our vast scientific ignorance of complex systems and natural predispositions towards greed) we would not be facing the cascading panoply of environmental crises we currently face.

    It follows that absent dramatic reversals of economic policy, agency direction, accountability and purpose, the creation of “collaborations” with the perpetrators of these crises, (as you and Martin advocate) will NOT provide the Big Fix.

    Indeed, the marketing of half-measures in the name of “stewardship” has profound opportunity costs considering the short time we’re being told we have before tipping points are reached and climatic feedbacks feed and accelerate upon themselves.

    At best, collaborations can provide temporary wealth for a few by profiting from treating the effects of the problem, but deprive the present and future generations as public owners of a collective “wealth” (What is more precious than quality of life?) because the CAUSES of the problem have never been adequately addressed.

    This is the biggest of many ugly flies in the ointment of free market environmentalism’s false logic currently being marketed as “collaboration”.

    As you have (sarcastically?) invoked “the circle of life”, given the precipice from which we now hang, this antipathy for bedrock environmental law constitutes, (from my vantage point), a circle of failure to identify the source of the problem and advocate accordingly.

    • No, I didn’t mean NEPA the statute or regs was stale; I meant that the EIS for the rulemaking that was published in 2001 might be considered by some to be stale.
      A few weeks ago, I gave a talk on ideas about landscape NEPA to some collaborative groups. I was asked “how often should EIS’s be updated?”. There is no hard and fast rule, like “three years”. There are some kinds of projects that are over and done with…
      like fuels treatment or timber sales; then there are ongoing projects like oil and gas leases, grazing permits, outfitter guides, ski areas, dam permits, etc. It seems to me that they are redone when someone thinks things have changed AND they do not like the current decision. Because the environment changes all the time.

      Anyway, I used the 2001 Roadless Rule as an example (perhaps my psychic powers detected a change in the vibrational energy of the 10th Circuit). That EIS did not consider climate change as we know it today; the impacts of bark beetle, the increase in OHV’s, our current (not so good) economic situation, and in the oil and gas analysis, I’m sure the tradeoff in GHG’s with coal were not described; nor were the economics of energy analyzed as would be valid today (remember EIS’s consider social and economic effects as well).

      I’m not saying I think it’s a good idea to redo the EIS (for sure, not!), I’m just saying that if the dispute about management of roadless areas had been settled somewhere other than the courts (like Congress, for example) we could have moved on 10 years ago. There would be no “gap leases” (as there wouldn’t have been a rule to be enjoined); we wouldn’t have had all the uncertainty (which makes it difficult for everyone) and convoluted behavior when courts appeared to have different approaches (as in 9th and 10th) as in “you have to follow the 2001, but not follow the 2001 at the same time, if you are in the 10th Circuit.”

      And if people wanted to take the FS back to court on this for “stale NEPA” they would just say “we are making the FS follow the law” as we hear so often on this blog. I think this illustrates why “just following the law” can be difficult.

  2. One thing that really struck me is the Court’s discussion of “existing roads within the IRA’s”. Sounds like ignorance and denial, to me. Why wasn’t there a “reasonable alternative” that disallowed areas with existing roads to be considered “roadless”??!? Oh, I see! It was because they wanted those areas to again be “roadless”, and was not what the Agency (and the Clinton Administration) preferred. Yes, that is why “a wide range of alternatives” WASN’T considered!

    In truth, many of those pre-Rule “roadless” areas do not have resources worth going after. However, extending roadless status to roaded areas is “bait and switch”. Simple as that!

  3. From page 30, in comparing Wilderness versus Roadless. Of course, the Forest Service may or may not have acted “capriciously” to designate the MANY existing roads within IRA’s as unneeded or unwanted.

    “Therefore, unlike the Wilderness Act, the Roadless Rule permits unlimited maintenance of all existing roads and does not prohibit the use of motorized vehicles or other motorized
    transportation on such existing roads. ”

    Surely, there are PLENTY of old roads that should not be maintained or re-used but, pretending that these areas are “pristine” and “untouched” is bait and switch. Where was the alternative for keeping roads within the IRA’s “in storage”, if needed in the future?

  4. The Cedar-Thom project in Montana is a good example of “roads in a roadless” area. The following link is to an “alternative b” map of the project. The light green areas are “inventoried roadless”.I’m no expert-but from what I can piece together- and I wish someone could clarify this for me-that the roads shown in the IRA were roads built “after” the areas were “released” after due process during RARE I and RARE II but because of litigation mumbo jumbo they were never released. So many IRA’s that have roads in them are “roadless” in name only(in fact a lot of past clearcutting went on in the above roadless). What a propoganda scam.

    I’m with Foto in that it’s all a moot point now anyway considering at the current rate of harvest the Lolo Nat. Forest logs 1.5% of it’s forested acreage every decade.


  5. I haven’t worked on roadless for a while, but the last I remember the answers to “why are there roads in roadless areas” fall into a couple of categories:

    Pre 2001 roads- the roads were there, but for some reason, the areas were still included in the inventory. For one thing, many of the maps used in the 2001 rulemaking were older, and this was pre-GIS and pre-Google maps. They were in a hurry (I’m not criticizing here; if you want to do something bold, you need to get ‘er done before an administration changes) so they used whatever they had for maps.

    Post 2001 Roads-

    – can be due to ANILCA and 1872 mining claims, or other legal rights not affected by 2001 Rule
    – can be due to preexisting rights and contracts (entered in prior to the promulgation of the 2001 rule), e.g., oil and gas leases
    – can be due to projects and leases issued during the periods when the 2001 Rule was enjoined or otherwise not in effect, I can’t remember off the top of my head but I think 2001 to 2006 or so. A substantial period of time.

    So what happened with the Colorado Rule was they took areas with roads in the inventory and swapped them out for acres not included in the 2001 roadless inventory that were really roadless. If the court hadn’t ruled, that would have been a commonsensical thing to happen nationally. I think it would make sense to most people that roadless areas should have no roads. And the 2001 Rule doesn’t say you need to close the ones that exist.


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