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Wyoming v. U.S. Department of Agriculture

United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
661 F. 3d 1209 (2011)


Facts

In 2001, the United States Forest Service (USFS) (defendant) issued the Roadless Area Conservation Rule (rule). The rule was promulgated under the Organic Administration Act of 1897 (Organic Act), 16 U.S.C. §§ 473-482, 551, which gave the USFS broad authority to regulate the occupancy and use of national forests and to protect the forests from destruction. The rule prohibited road construction in inventoried roadless areas (IRAs) located within national forests. The rule also prohibited the cutting, sale, and removal of timber from IRAs, with limited exceptions. The State of Wyoming (state) (plaintiff) challenged the USFS’s rule in district court, claiming that the rule violated the Wilderness Act of 1964 (Wilderness Act), 16 U.S.C. §§ 1131-36, by creating a de facto wilderness designation in violation of the Wilderness Act’s designation process for wilderness areas. The district court agreed with the state, finding that wilderness areas governed by the Wilderness Act were essentially the same as IRAs governed by the rule, and that land uses in IRAs were more restricted than land uses in wilderness areas. The district court entered a permanent injunction against the rule. The USFS appealed, arguing that IRAs were not de facto wilderness areas and that the rule was a valid exercise of its authority.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Holmes, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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