Wyoming’s long fight against the Clinton-era roadless rule may have come to an end.
The U-S Supreme Court today (Monday) turned away an appeal by Wyoming and the Colorado Mining Association, challenging a federal rule that bars development on 50 million acres of roadless areas in national forests.
The Environmental Group Earthjustice has fought for the rule over the years. Attorney Tim Preso says it will keep energy development, road building and logging from pristine areas of Wyoming.
“The contribution that these areas make to sustaining all the wildlife that we value so much in this part of the world. From Elk and Moose, Big Horn Sheep, to Grizzly bears and Lynx and Wolverines. All the things that still make Wyoming and the Northern Rockies a wild place, wilderness areas are critical to that.”
Oil and gas leases approved prior to the Roadless Rulewould be exempt. While the rule does ban some things, Preso says that the Forest Service can allow many other uses.
“The Forest Service has all the discretion it wants to plan for those roadless areas in terms of what kinds of activities including things like off-road vehicles can go forward in those areas. The roadless rule itself does not put any thumb on the scales in respect to of any of those activities.”
Wyoming’s challenge centered on the contention that that U.S. Forest Service essentially declared forests to be wilderness areas, a power that rests with Congress under the 1964 Wilderness Act.