Recreation access advocates expressed disappointment with the recent decision of the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals reinstating the 2001 Roadless Rule. That decision was issued on October 21, 2011 by a three-judge panel over eighteen months after the case was argued. Their 120-page opinion disagreed with the Wyoming district court, emphasizing the procedural low bar that the Forest Service cleared under laws like the National Environmental Policy Act. The 2001 Rule was issued in the waning days of the Clinton administration and is considered by many to be the brainchild of preservationist special interests channeled through former vice president named Al Gore.
“We would have rather seen a different outcome, but hope this will allow energy to be diverted away from the courts and into actual management of our public lands,” 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. “We are naively hopeful that preservationist interests and decision-makers take to heart the Court’s conclusion that the Roadless Rule does not create de facto wilderness, but rather ‘no prohibitions on the use of motorized vehicles or equipment, boats or aircraft, or other forms of mechanical transport’” noted Mumm (quoting page 28 of the Decision). ”Contrary to the parade of horribles that supporters invoke in hopes of currying favor for the Rule, the recreation community has never sought more than recognition of continuing access along existing routes in ‘roadless’ areas,” Mumm concluded.
Other recreational groups participating alongside BlueRibbon were the California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs, United Four Wheel Drive Associations, and the American Council of Snowmobile Associations. It remains to be seen how interest groups, bureaucrats and elected officials will respond to this development. The “roadless” issue is complex and ongoing, with the quality of any side’s perceived or claimed victory sometimes correlated with the tenacity of opposition from others. The Recreation Groups intend to remain active in the ongoing efforts to follow this decision, including governing law and helping to craft sound policy recreational opportunity for a diverse array of public lands visitors.
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Filed Under: Midwest - Access Issues