A federal appeals court panel heard a challenge Friday to Idaho’s roadless rule. Environmental groups argued the rule gives the Forest Service too much flexibility to build new roads.
The federal courtroom in Portland was packed. A dozen people made the trip from Idaho to sit in silent support of the state’s roadless rule, including former Idaho governor Jim Risch and the chair of the Kootenai tribe.
Attorney Julie Weis represents the tribe. She says the rule is a good compromise, hashed out between environmental groups and mining interests. And it hasn’t led to more roads in Idaho’s national forests.
“In the four years since the rule was actually issued, not a single road has been built,” she told the three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. “The sky is not following on Idaho inventoried roadless areas.”
In 2006, the Bush administration allowed Idaho to come up with its own alternative to the federal roadless rule. An attorney with the environmental group Earthjustice argued the Idaho rule is too flexible, and that it could set the stage for logging and mining in caribou and grizzly habitat.
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