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Courts uphold 'roadless conservation rule'

Environmental and hunting groups today praised a federal court decision to uphold the U.S. Forest Service's “Roadless Conservation Rule,” a Clinton era multiple-use national forest management regulation that was designed to limit road building and timber harvesting on undeveloped public lands managed by the Agriculture Department.

In 2008, a federal court in Wyoming found that the roadless rule violated federal environmental law, but today the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the rule, opening the door for the Obama administration to implement it.

“While access is important to sportsmen, densely roaded areas have been shown to negatively affect elk and deer behavior, reproduction and survival and consequently hunter opportunity,” said the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Excessive, poorly located roads contribute to increased sediment loads in waterways that are important to wild trout and salmon, thereby diminishing the number and size of fish.”