A federal court in Idaho has upheld the state’s “roadless rule,” rejecting environmental group arguments that the state plan, which allows logging and mining, would damage endangered wildlife and wilderness. Jayne v. Rey, No. 09-015 (D. Idaho 1/29/11). Approved by the U.S. Forest Service in 2008, the Idaho plan involves opening 5,700 acres of underdeveloped backcountry for phosphate mining in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, as well as road building and logging on more than 442,000 acres.
In January 2009, a coalition of conservation groups, including the Sierra Club, Wilderness Society and Greater Yellowstone Coalition, sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Interior, alleging that the plan would destroy pristine habitat and harm threatened and endangered species, such as caribou and grizzly bears. They alleged violations of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), NEPA and the Wyoming Wilderness Act. The court rejected plaintiff’s arguments, ruling that the Idaho plan did not violate the law, and upheld the Forest Service’s approval of the plan, which contained assurances that the statutes would not be violated.