Last Saturday, a federal judge in Montana ruled against the Sierra Club and against stronger protections for Idaho's roadless areas. Idaho was one of two states to opt out of the 2001 Roadless Rule and create its own state rule during the short-lived period under the Bush administration when that was permitted, a permission that was ultimately deemed illegal. The Sierra Club along with our partners The Wilderness Society, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, and the Natural Resources Defense Council filed suit hoping to give Idaho's 9 million roadless acres the full protection of the national rule. Saturday's decision effectively puts an end to that possibility.
The 2001 Roadless Rule is one of the great conservation success stories of the past decade. In its original form it protected 58.5 million roadless acres across our public lands from development. These lands provide clean water for millions of Americans, provide unparalleled habitat for endangered species, connecting corridors to allow wildlife to migrate, and sequester climate-changing greenhouse gases in some of our coutnry's largest tracts of old-growth forest. This year is the 10th anniversary of the establishment of those protections and unfortunately the rule is still under attack. But the fight will continue for Idaho's and our country's roadless forests. Areas free from the stresses of development and road-building are vital to protect our country's air, water, and wild legacy.