Alaska Roadless Upheld

Here’s a link and below is an excerpt.

SEATTLE — A court in Washington, D.C., has rejected the last legal challenge to prohibitions on logging and road building in backcountry roadless areas, ending more than 12 years of fighting over one of the nation’s signature wilderness protection policies.

The state of Alaska had challenged the rule adopted in 2001 by President Clinton to preserve the last large tracts of untouched forest in states including Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and Alaska — along with about 1.7 million acres in California — that still have not been opened to logging and other development.

U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon ruled Monday that Alaska’s challenge in 2011 came too late under the statute of limitations to invalidate a policy that already has survived multiple lawsuits in courts across the country.

You gotta wonder whether by the time something’s “too late under the statute of limitations” (10 years), the NEPA has to be “stale”.. Does that mean you can start another case based on that? Aargh.. maybe Congress should have done this in the first place.

5 thoughts on “Alaska Roadless Upheld”

  1. That would require that Congress do anything at all, which seems increasingly impossible in this day and age.

    The era of large-scale logging in Alaska’s NFs is over anyway, and there’s no shortage of “roaded” areas left over from 50 years of extensive clearcutting that are exempted from the rule.

  2. This blog sometimes tends toward the “train wreck theory” i.e., “the system is unworkable, let’s throw it out and start over.” Not very constructive.

    Or maybe its just that people have a limited understanding of how the law works, and instead of trying to understand it better, it’s easier to demonize and ridicule the law.

    The roadless rule does not authorize “action” but rather advances mostly passive management of roadless areas. NEPA forces environmental review when an agency proposed to take some affirmative action.

    It is generally difficult to bring a lawsuit to challenge government inaction, especially in the realm of public lands, see e.g. SUWA v Norton.

    • Tree: Or maybe it isn’t a “limited understanding of how the law works,” at all, and maybe there are a number of actual reasons to “demonize and ridicule” (i.e., “analyze and comment upon”) the law. Bad laws should be changed — just ask Abe Lincoln. These are bad laws (however well intended) that aren’t working and need to be changed. No reason to lecture anybody on your own personal perspective, or to question the mental capabilities of those you disagree with.

    • Tree- I don’t think anyone here is saying “let’s throw out the existing laws”. We’re just saying that in our experience, the way things work now is not as good as it could be. We want to improve things to better have ” harmony between folks and environment” to paraphrase NEPA.

      Now when folks criticize FS actions, I don’t say “not very constructive.” I try to understand where people are coming from and whether I agree or disagree. What’s sauce for the goose…

      I would like to understand legal things better… but I was involved, while working, in a number of situations when the law has a certain good thing it wants to do, but by the time the regulations are written and the case law determined, it could have the opposite effect or any other effect, and have required people to spend much time on things not related to the original issue.

      I know a great deal about roadless and some (but not so much as many FS NEPA practitioners about) NEPA, so will share what I know. But we really need to hear from those who think things are really working well, and perhaps it just doesn’t look that way from where we stand. That’s why it would be great to hear more from the “legal expert” folks.

  3. Here’s the take on the ruling from Earthjustice:

    Interesting, isn’t it, how no commenters are going after the State of Alaska for filing this lawsuit? Or criticizing the state of Wyoming and a mining industry group from Colorado for a similar appeal the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear last year. I mean, how much money did all those lawsuits cost the U.S. Government, DOJ and taxpayers? Who’s going to call for direct action against Alaska to show them what we think about their lawsuit that wasted all this time and money?


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