John Kroger (D)
Ted Kulongoski (D)SALEM, Ore. (Legal Newsline)-Oregon Attorney General John Kroger is urging the U.S. Department of Justice to fight hard to preserve wilderness areas from development. In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Kroger and Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski asked that the Justice Department pursue a legal strategy that supports the so-called Roadless Rule to protect pristine wilderness areas. The 2001 rule that bans road building and commercial logging on 40 million acres of pristine and near-pristine national forest land in 38 states and Puerto Rico was reinstated in August by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. "President Obama campaigned against the Bush Administration's attempts to undermine the Roadless Rule," Kroger said in a statement. "I am urging U.S. Attorney General Holder to follow through in court." Kulongoski said the Roadless Rule provides "important protections to special places across our country." Following a trial court ruling that the rule had been illegally repealed in part because the Bush administration failed to consider the environmental consequences, the U.S. Department of Agriculture appealed. After President Barack Obama took office in January, his administration did not withdraw the appeal by the Bush White House. For his part, Obama has ordered a one-year moratorium on most road-building on federal forest lands. "The Roadless Rule provides important protections to many of the country's last wild places," Kroger said. "I look forward to the Administration's strong support of these special places." Seeking to reinstate the Roadless Rule, attorneys general from four states filed suit. The states are: Oregon, California, New Mexico and Washington.