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Wyoming Court Strikes Roadless Rule, Blasts Forest Service

CHEYENNE, WY (August 13, 2008) - The Clinton-Gore 2001 Roadless Rule suffered another death in its phoenix-like existence as U.S. District of Wyoming Judge Clarence Brimmer yesterday issued a 102 page decision declaring the Rule illegal and enjoining its implementation throughout the U.S. Forest Service System. The decision came in a case brought by the State of Wyoming in 2007, which paralleled an earlier complaint filed by Wyoming in 2001. Judge Brimmer found the Rule illegal in the first case, but the 2001 case was found to be moot and his ruling vacated on appeal, and the 2001 Rule was reinstated in 2006 by a judge in the Northern District of California. Brimmer's decision minces few words, concluding the 2001 Rule "was driven by political haste and evidenced pro forma compliance with" environmental laws, using descriptors such as "flagrant" and "cavalier" in characterizing the "unequivocal" violations.

"We are obviously pleased by this decision and feel that it vindicates our position laid out over a decade ago opposing a top-down 'one size fits all' roadless policy," said Greg Mumm, Executive Director of the BlueRibbon Coalition, a national advocacy organization for trails-based recreation that has participated in the various Roadless cases. Other recreational groups joining BlueRibbon in the Wyoming, California and other cases were the California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs, United Four Wheel Drive Associations, and the American Council of Snowmobile Associations.

"It is particularly timely that we now place the 2001 Roadless Rule as an example of a bad idea that we should lay to rest," observed Paul Turcke, an attorney for the Recreational Groups. "All Forest visitors respect and value these areas, but they are properly managed by local officials with local input, not through a legacy-building campaign launched and maneuvered inside the DC beltway," Turcke concluded.

The "roadless" areas will now be protected and managed under existing Forest Plans, or through the state-generated petitions in some states, including Idaho and Colorado, that are being considered, submitted for public input, and will ultimately be adopted by the Forest Service. It is unclear how the recent ruling will affect the numerous Forest Service actions taken since 2006 which applied the 2001 Roadless Rule.

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