Our public lands won a major victory in October when a federal appeals court upheld President Clinton’s Roadless Area Conservation Rule, protecting almost 60 million acres of land from mining, drilling and logging.
Two-thirds of America’s national forests and grasslands were already open to industry when Environmental Action members and millions of like-minded Americans convinced then-President Clinton to enact the rule in 2001. By prohibiting new roads in the remaining one-third of our public lands, we effectively banned logging, mining and drilling in 58.5 million acres of backcountry.
Wilderness is essential for it’s own sake. But this rule did double-duty for the planet and people because these untrammeled places also provide drinking water for more than 60 million people and important fish and wildlife habitats.
Special interest have been trying to dismantle the rule ever since it was created, by replacing it with an optional, state-based process, or exempting some of the most prized areas, like the Tongass National Forest, from the rule.
But thanks to online advocacy from Environmental Action members and some last-minute support from the Obama administration, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals officially upheld the roadless rule. This is another victory for the environment and proof that when we take action together we can make a difference.