Idaho, others urge U.S. judge to block roadless rule


Mar 11, 2001
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Idaho, others urge U.S. judge to block roadless rule

By Rocky Barker, The Idaho Statesman.

Idaho Attorney General Al Lance on Monday renewed the state's request that a federal judge stop a roadless rule from taking effect Saturday.

Lance formally responded to the Bush administration's decision to allow the ban on roads in 58 million acres of roadless national forest to go forward.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman said Friday that the rules will be amended in June through a new process that will meet the state's concerns.

More than 9 million acres of Idaho national forest is affected by the rule, which bans road-building and commercial logging in roadless areas.

These are wildlife sanctuaries for elk and grizzly bears and popular recreation areas for hikers, motorcyclists, snowmobilers, hunters, anglers and horseback riders.

The state, local governments, Boise Cascade Corp. and others that oppose the rule in court said their concerns were not addressed when the two-year review of roadless policy was done.

Environmentalists said the 1.6 million comments and more than 600 public meetings demonstrate the public was deeply involved in the decision.

Lance said in the court filing that the Bush administration must start all over because the Clinton administration did not follow the legal procedures of the National Environmental Policy Act.

"Failure to follow those requirements is, standing alone, an adequate basis for injunctive relief," Lance said in the filing.

U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge already has said he considers the rule "an obvious violation" of the National Environmental Policy Act.

In its official filing with Lodge, the government said it shares Idaho's concerns about possible long-term "irreparable harm" if the rule is not amended.

But such harm in the short term is unlikely, U.S. Department of Justice attorneys wrote.

Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund Attorney Douglas Honnold, who represents environmental groups, doubted the state can show irreparable harm as required for a preliminary injunction.

"If the rules are changed so you don't have to show on-the-ground injury, that would be great for environmentalists," he said. "But I don't think the courts are going there."

To offer story ideas or comments, contact reporter Rocky Barker at 377-6484 or

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