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Court: No appeal consideration means roadless rule stands

Superior National Forest scene
Superior National Forest scene

The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday announced it will not consider an appeal of the so-called “roadless rule” for national forests, a move that means permanent protection for about 45 million acres of undeveloped public land.

The Duluth News-Tribune reports the controversial rule was enacted in 2001 under President Clinton and affected about 58 million acres, including 62,000 acres in the Superior National Forest, much of it adjacent to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Lake and Cook counties.

The rule also covers 69,000 acres in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in northern Wisconsin. The Chippewa National Forest is not affected.

The roadless rule prohibits new roads and most logging but allows motorized recreation, such as snowmobiles and ATVs. It also allows mining, and some tree cutting is allowed for fire prevention efforts.

A Forest Service spokeswoman for the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, said the ruling does not change how national forest lands are currently being managed, only that “It appears that this means it’s now permanent.”

The roadless rule was enacted late in the Clinton administration, then was untracked by the Bush administration before ending up in the courts.