Administrative rulemaking and public lands conflict: The forest service's roadless rule

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Many of the most controversial issues in public land policy and management are addressed by natural resource agencies using the administrative rulemaking process. This is partly due to the design of public land laws, many of which are ambiguous, vague, and/or contradictory in part. This article examines the historic roadless rule promulgated by the U.S. Forest Service ftom a process and decision-making standpoint. The roadless rule is important to learn from because it has been one of the most controversial rules ever written and has raised serious questions about the limitations and legitimacy of large-scale rulemakings. The article finishes by exploring various options and alternatives to the rulemaking status quo. Alternatives in public participation, transparency, electronic rulemaking, scoping, collaboration, and others are discussed. The article argues for more congressional responsibility in resolving the roadless issue but also defends the rule in terms of what is legal and legitimate in today's political context and administrative state.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)687-742
Number of pages56
JournalNatural Resources Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2004


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