Release No. 0223.11 Contact: Press Office (202) 205-1134
Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Renews Interim Directive Covering Roadless
Areas in National Forests
WASHINGTON, May 31, 2011 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced
today that he is renewing an interim directive regarding inventoried
roadless areas within our National Forests and Grasslands for an
additional year. This is the third one-year, interim directive issued by
Secretary Vilsack that governs projects in roadless areas in our
"As we await a ruling on the 2001 Roadless Rule from the 10th U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals, I will continue to work with the U.S. Forest
Service to ensure we protect roadless areas on our National Forests,"
said Vilsack. "Renewing this interim directive for a third year reflects
this Administration's commitment to conserve our forests by ensuring
that projects in roadless areas receive a higher level of scrutiny by
The directive provides decision-making authority to the Secretary over
proposed forest management or road construction projects in inventoried
roadless areas. This directive also ensures a consistent national review
of all proposed projects. In 2009, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
upheld the 2001 Roadless Rule. The Rule is currently under appeal in the
10th Circuit. A ruling on that case is expected soon.
The revised interim directive does not require Secretarial approval for
activities such as emergency fire-fighting activities and small diameter
timber cutting to improve endangered species habitat and to reduce risk
of catastrophic wildlfire. These activities were also exempted under the
previous interim directives and are consistent with the 2001 Roadless
This interim directive does not affect roadless areas on National Forest
System lands in Idaho. Idaho developed its own roadless rule through the
Administrative Procedures Act. The Idaho rule provides strong
protections for roadless areas.
A recent judgment issued by a federal court in Alaska reinstated the
2001 Roadless Rule on the Tongass National Forest in Alaska. The
judgment, which was jointly developed by the Forest Service and
plaintiffs in the case, allows a series of activities, including
construction of hydroelectric facilities and other projects, to move
Vilsack has approved 38 projects under the two, previous interim
directives. These projects allowed, for example, forest restoration
activities near towns, small hydroelectric facilities in Alaska, moving
trailhead and campground facilities, short access roads to state forest
lands, mine cleanups, realignment of roads to reduce water run-off and
erosion, and drilling methane wells for pre-existing coal mines. Some
approved projects allowed for mineral exploration activities under the
mandate of the1872 General Mining Law.
This revised interim directive will last for one year.
The mission of the USDA Forest Service is to sustain the health,
diversity, and productivity of the Nation's forests and grasslands to
meet the needs of present and future generations. The Agency manages 193
million acres of public land, provides assistance to states and private
landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a
complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil
Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or
call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).
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