State continues to claim the Forest Service didn’t abide by federal environmental laws when it adopted the rule
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — It appears that lawyers who have spent the last year wrangling over a roadless rule for about 50 million acres of national forest system lands will continue to battle, potentially before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The rule would protect relatively undisturbed areas from most intrusion and development, but maintain access for hunting and hiking.
Wyoming last week petitioned the Supreme Court to review the most recent decision by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which twice decisively rejected Wyoming’s claims that rule was adopted in violation of federal environmental laws — a far-fetched claim to begin with, given that the national roadless rule was subject to one of the most far-reaching public processes in the agency’s history.
“The character of this exercise is that the 10th Circuit Court got it wrong,” said Tim Preso one of many Earthjustice attorneys who has been defending the rule against legal challenges.
“We don’t think there’s any reason for the Supreme Court to take this up,” Preso said. “The federal 10th Circuit Court of Appeals thoroughly rejected every claim the state of Wyoming raised against the Roadless Rule. We think the 10th circuit got it right and will explain that to the Supreme Court.
Even if Wyoming doesn’t win the case, it could be filing the petition as a delaying tactic, pending the outcome of November’s presidential election. The court isn’t likely to even decide whether to hear the case until sometime in the fall, Preso said.
“This is a situation where two federal appeals courts, the 9th and 10th circuits, both agreed that the Roadless Rule is legal. Earthjustice is prepared to defend those decisions and make sure that protections for wild forests stand.”
“Roadless areas in our national forests provide a refuge for America’s wildlife, protect the sources for much of the nation’s pure drinking water, and are a recreational haven for millions of hunters, anglers, and hikers. We’ll work to protect America’s best roadless forests and defeat Wyoming’s last-ditch attempt to bulldoze, drill, and clearcut these irreplaceable natural areas,” he added.
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, forests, public lands, US Forest Service Tagged: | Roadless area conservation, Supreme Court of the United States, United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, United States National Forest, Wyoming