A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments on Idaho’s national forest roadless rule Friday in Portland.
The panel, which included Idaho Senior Appeals Judge Stephen Trott, heard the appeal by the Wilderness Society and other environmental groups of the decision in 2011 of U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill’s decision upholding the rule.
The rule, negotiated by Jim Risch when he was governor, set up a unique system to protect nearly 9 million acres of roadless land in Idaho. The rule is separate from the 2001 roadless rule that has been upheld by two appeals courts and the Supreme Court by its decision not to hear the case.
“Working with groups like the Idaho Conservation League and Trout Unlimited, along with loggers, off-road users and other stakeholders, we crafted the only state plan in the nation that protects our land and helps rural communities,” said Risch, now a U.S. Senator.
Tim Preso, attorney with Earthjustice, who represented the Wilderness Society, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition and others said the judges asked him many questions about the points he raised in the case. They asked him why he his clients didn’t like the collaborative process.
“When the collaborative buy-in comes with an analysis that doesn’t disclose the real impact it’s a lot easier to get the buy-in,” Preso said.
Risch attended the hearing along with representatives of the state of Idaho and the Kootenai Tribe.