Idaho Roadless Rule upheld by Ninth Circuit Court

Wed, 01/09/2013


Idaho Roadless Rule upheld by Ninth Circuit Court

Rule will keep more than 9 million acres of backcountry protected

Anglers and hunters' most valuable places scored a win Monday when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals announced Monday it was upholding the Idaho Roadless Rule.

The decision was the final foreseeable hurdle for the rule, and came with a very strong ruling, said Scott Stouder, roadless protection coordinator in Idaho for Trout Unlimited.

"We're really happy to finally have this cloud lifted from our horizon on roadless in Idaho," Stouder said. "When it first started, we couldn't have predicted that this protection status would be this strong and this well supported by the diverse groups in the states. Once you've focused on conflict, that's all you see. If you can unfocus on the conflict and focus on the solutions, then you start to make progress."

Trout Unlimited has been involved in this process since the beginning, helping to bring groups together to craft something that would protect these special places and work for the people of Idaho. Taking effect in 2008, the Idaho Roadless Rule was a community driven answer to the issues surrounding the 2001 National Roadless Rule — community being the key word.

"The Idaho Roadless Rule is a demonstration of the power of collaborative stewardship," said Chris Wood, CEO of Trout Unlimited. "This came about because sportsmen and women, ranchers, conservationists, county commissioners and others saw the power of common people working to solve common problems for the common good. We were all united by a common bond and love for Idaho's backcountry areas."

Wood, who participated on the advisory committee that shaped the rule over several years added, "This decision underlines the fact that this type of conservation — from the people, for the people — truly works."

Idaho was one of two states (Idaho and Colorado) to develop their own roadless rule. Colorado's rule was signed into law this past summer.

The Idaho Roadless Rule protects some of the best of what's left. In Idaho, there are 9.3 million acres of roadless areas. Those areas cover 74 percent of salmon and steelhead spawning habitat. For the hard-core hunters, they are prime territory. About 97 percent of roadless areas in Idaho have hunting season that last more than two months.

"As a rule, Idaho tends to have a very independent spirit, so taking something like this on was no small task, but it was a necessary one." Stouder said. "And now we have a rule that is as strong, if not stronger than the national rule."

Roadless areas (protected by the recently upheld 2001 Roadless Rule) aren't necessarily roadless. It's much better to equate the term "roadless" with "undeveloped." In other words, it's simply better habitat and better habitat equals healthier fish, better big game herds and ultimately, better fishing and hunting.


Trout Unlimited is a non-profit organization with more than 147,000 members dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring North America's trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds. Follow TU on the TU blog, on Facebook, and on Twitter via @TroutUnlimited.


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