SAN FRANCISCO - On Dec. 12, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the May 10, 2001, ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho, which enjoined the U.S. Department of Agriculture from implementing the Roadless Area Conservation Rule (Roadless Rule).

The court lifted an injunction against the Roadless Area Conservation Rule. The case involving the Clinton-era roadless-era protection plan now goes back to U.S. District Court in Idaho.

In the ruling, the Court of Appeals stated, "Roadless areas in our national forests also help conserve some of the last unspoiled wilderness in our country. The unspoiled forest provides not only sheltering shade for the visitor and sustenance for its diverse wildlife but also pure water and fresh oxygen for humankind," according to the Sierra Club, which hailed the decision.

In January 2001, the Forest Service completed the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, a plan to remove multiple-use from nearly 60 million acres of roadless areas. The rule marked the end of a public process that included more than 600 public meetings and spanned three years.

Under Secretary of Agriculture Mark Rey said, "We are working with the Department of Justice to review the decision. On May 4, 2001, the Department announced that it would allow the rule to go into effect as it now will with the injunction vacated by the court.

"The Forest Service is committed to protecting and managing roadless values and consider inventoried roadless areas an important component of the National Forest System. Over the last year, we have been working toward a responsible and balanced approach that fairly addresses concerns raised by states, tribes and local communities impacted by the rule, and incorporates the department's May 4, 2001, principles of informed decision making; working together; protecting forests, communities, homes, and property from fire; and protecting access to property."

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