Wyoming, Colorado mining group slam 2001 roadless rule
December 5, 2011
DENVER – The state of Wyoming and the Colorado Mining Association want a federal court in Denver to reconsider a rule prohibiting roads on nearly 50 million acres of land in national forests across the United States.
In a motion filed Monday, the plaintiffs said the U.S. Forest Service’s roadless rule was “a sham process calculated to create wilderness without Congress” and shouldn’t be allowed to stand. The request sought a rehearing on the issue.
Last month, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals backed the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule. The rule was put in place by the Clinton administration in 2001, just before George W. Bush took office.
The U.S. Forest Service currently manages more than 190 million acres of land used for multiple purposes that must comply with strict rules on land use changes spelled out in the federal Wilderness Act and National Environmental Policy Act.
Wyoming and the Colorado Mining Association argued the 2001 rule violates the 1964 Wilderness Act, saying that the definition of roadless lands is synonymous with wilderness lands. The 1964 act states only Congress can designate wilderness lands.
Wyoming and the mining group argued that the court’s decision backing the rule “allows the Forest Service to unlawfully circumvent Congress and thwart many of the laws designed to ensure the proper management and conservation of the National Forests.”
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“In reality, areas covered by the Roadless Rule are indistinguishable from wilderness,” Wyoming’s lawyers wrote in the latest motion.
A spokesman for the U.S Forest Service Rocky Mountain Region said the office hadn’t seen the motion and wouldn’t be able to comment on it Monday.
Conservation groups vowed to again argue on Forest Service’s side if the case is reheard.
“This rule is so important to protecting these pristine forests, our national heritage,” said Tim Preso, an Earthjustice attorney representing conservation groups that took part in the case.