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Wyoming v. United States Forest Service

ELR Citation: 41 ELR 20327
Nos. 08-8061 & 09-8075, (10th Cir., 10/21/2011)

The Tenth Circuit, in a 120-page opinion, reversed a lower court decision setting aside and permanently enjoining the U.S. Forest Service's Roadless Area Conservation Rule. In setting aside the rule, the lower court held that the Service violated the Wilderness Act of 1964 and NEPA. But the Wilderness Act did not repeal or in any way limit the Forest Service's broad authority to regulate National Forest System lands for conservation purposes, including "wilderness." Nor did the Forest Service violate NEPA. Because the record does not contain sufficient evidence to show that the Forest Service irreversibly and irretrievably committed itself to a certain outcome before the NEPA analysis was completed, and because the Forest Service otherwise complied with the mandates of NEPA, the Service took the requisite "hard look" at the environmental consequences of the Roadless Rule and did not act arbitrarily and capriciously in conducting its analysis. The court also rejected claims that the Service violated the Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield Act and the National Forest Management Act. The lower court, therefore, erred in permanently enjoining the Roadless Rule on a nationwide basis.