On Sept. 19, U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Laporte reinstated protection for some 50 million acres of roadless national forest land. (Separate rules govern the roughly 9 million roadless acres of Alaska’s Tongass.) Laporte ruled that the Forest Service violated the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act when, in 2005, it repealed President Clinton’s 2001 "roadless rule" and required states to petition for roadless protection. The Forest Service has roughly three months to decide whether to appeal the ruling to the 9th Circuit Court. In the meantime, inventoried roadless areas must be protected under the terms of Clinton’s original roadless rule. The ruling comes just weeks before the Bush administration’s deadline for states to petition the government for protection.
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