CHEYENNE - Gov. Matt Mead on Monday directed the state of Wyoming to petition for a rehearing of the decision that upheld a federal law prohibiting roads on nearly 50 million acres of land in national forests across the United States
In October, a three-judge panel from the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals backed the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule, a ruling hailed by environmentalists as one of the most significant in decades.
The ruling affects 3.2 million acres of national forest land in Wyoming, protecting water quality and wildlife habitat for grizzly bears, lynx and Pacific salmon.
Wyoming's petition asks the entire 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, currently composed of 10 judges, to rehear the case. The petition alleges that the U.S. Forest Service violated the 1964 Wilderness Act when it created de facto wilderness areas. It also states, among other assertions, that the Forest Service circumvented required environmental and forest management rules and is required to evaluate forest use only on a forest-by-forest basis.
"The creation of these de facto wilderness areas means the voice of the public and the state are stifled in managing the lands here," Mead said in a media release. "Not only does this prevent many uses of public land, but it also limits our ability to fight back against the bark beetles that are devastating our forests."