A federal judge on Wednesday reinstated the “Roadless Rule,” a Clinton-era ban on road construction in nearly a third of national forests.
This rule had prohibited development of various sorts in areas that were designated as roadless, meaning they were further than a certain distance from any sort of manmade road. The rule covered almost 60 million acres of federal land, but it was replaced with a half-assed system that the feds don’t even seem to be applying consistently.
As it stood, the governors were going to be allowed to write their own rules for development in those areas, but when it looked like the fairly progressive Oregon governor was going to clamp down on development in his rules, the feds jumped ahead. The Forest Service declared their intent to allow logging in the largest roadless forest in Oregon, before the governor had issued rules that would govern the lands. This confirmed suspicions that the entire exercise was just intended to open these last bits of wilderness up to development.
The State of Oregon is one of the plaintiffs in the suit. The judge ruled that the new rule, issued in 2005, did not go through the steps required, including environmental impact assessments.