APPEALS COURT: CLINTON FOREST ROADLESS RULE IS LEGAL
October 21, 2011 - For Immediate Release
DENVER, CO. A western, public-interest law firm with decades of experience in federal land litigation today decried the ruling of a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit that overturned a Wyoming federal district court’s ruling that President Clinton’s lame duck issuance of a rule closing 60 million acres of “roadless” national forest lands "was a thinly veiled attempt to designate 'wilderness areas' in violation of the… Wilderness Act." Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF) had urged the panel to uphold the district court’s issuance of a permanent injunction because Clinton had violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Wilderness Act. Earlier, MSLF had urged the Wyoming court to issue its ruling. MSLF argued that the Wilderness Act of 1964 put an end to unilateral decisions by the Forest Service on what lands may be treated as “wilderness” and provides that only Congress may designate lands as all but closed to the general public. Subsequently, Congress enacted numerous wilderness laws assigning “wilderness” designation to millions of acres.
“We are very disappointed by the panel’s ruling today; however, the opinion is 120 pages in length and we are still in the process of reviewing it,” said William Perry Pendley, MSLF president.
In 2001, the Forest Service enacted the Roadless Rule, which barred road construction and reconstruction and timber harvesting on nearly 60 million acres of national forests. In March 2001, President Bush issued a moratorium on all new regulations that had not yet been implemented. In May 2001, the Idaho federal district court enjoined implementation of the Roadless Rule, and, in July 2003, the Wyoming federal district court issued a nationwide permanent injunction against the Rule. The Forest Service declined to appeal either ruling. In May 2005, one day after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit heard oral argument on an appeal by environmental groups, the Forest Service adopted the State Petition Rule, which reverted to the prior regime of forest-by-forest plans. The Forest Service then asked the Tenth Circuit to vacate the Wyoming decision.
On November 29, 2006, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California set aside the State Petition Rule and reinstated the 2001 Roadless Rule. Wyoming was not permitted to reinstitute its lawsuit despite its claim that the California ruling caused it injury. Therefore, on January 12, 2007, Wyoming filed a second suit to declare the Roadless Rule unlawful. A host of environmental groups intervened in the case in defense of the Clinton Roadless Rule. In 2001, Mountain States Legal Foundation had challenged the Clinton rule on behalf of Communities for a Great Northwest.
Mountain States Legal Foundation, created in 1977, is a nonprofit, public-interest legal foundation dedicated to individual liberty, the right to own and use property, limited and ethical government, and the free enterprise system. Its offices are in suburban Denver, Colorado.
State of Wyoming v. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Nos. 08-8061, 09-8075 (10th Cir.)
Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF) is a nonprofit,
public interest legal foundation dedicated to individual liberty, the right
to own and use property, limited and ethical government, and economic freedom. It is an Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(3) entity
incorporated in the State of Colorado. Csontributions
to Mountain States Legal Foundation are tax deductible.
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