Federal appeals court backs rule to protect national forests

Conservation groups say the regulation will ensure that 50 million acres of land are protected.

Industry groups, along with the state of Wyoming, had objected to the 2001 rule. But conservation groups, along with the states of California, Oregon and Washington, defended the regulation, arguing it is essential for protecting national forests.

Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) praised the court decision Friday.

"This decision by the courts should be the end of the road for those trying to pave some of the last remaining roadless forests in America," Markey said in a statement.

But Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, blasted the decision, adding that Congress should consider taking action to block the regulation.

"This decision will further strangle the economic opportunities in Southeast Alaska and throughout the West," Murkowski said in a statement. "Congress may need to intercede to put America  back on track to a more balanced and rational approach for managing our federal lands."

This story was updated at 3:58 p.m.