The result of more than two decades of effort, the roadless rule turned a patchwork of local management practices into a balanced federal strategy that now protects America's last undeveloped national forests.
The rule was adopted by the Clinton administration in 2001 and protects 58.5 million acres – about one-third of our national forests – in 39 states, including 9.3 million acres in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. It places off limits to logging, mining, and drilling interests our most unspoiled national forests and increases public access and recreational opportunities on those lands, including hiking, camping, hunting and fishing.
These areas are vital because they serve as important sources of drinking water for 60 million Americans, provide habitat for more than 1,600 threatened or endangered plants and animals, and generate a significant portion of the outdoor recreation industry’s $730 billion in annual revenue and 6.5 million in jobs across the country.
During its ten-year history, the rule has been implemented by the Department of Agriculture, blocked by departmental and administrative actions, protected through presidential directives and litigated by opponents and proponents. On October 21, 2011, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld the roadless rule, removing the cloud of legal uncertainty surrounding it for nearly a decade. The decision reinforces the roadless rule as the cornerstone of protection for our national forests and preserves these landscapes for generations to come.
Explore years of scientific research, public meetings, and widespread comments surrounding the rule: