Thursday, September 4, 2014
Tenth Circuit Upholds Forest Service Decision Allowing Motorcycle Use on Trail in Wyoming Roadless Area
On September 3, the Tenth Circuit (Tymkovich, McKay, Matheson) issued a decision in Biodiversity Conservation Alliance v. Forest Service, No. 12-8071. This case involved a challenge to the Forest Service’s decision allowing motorcycle use on a five-mile trail in a roadless area of Medicine Bow National Forest in southern Wyoming. The Forest Service made its decision based on an Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact; the Biodiversity Conservation Alliance objected that the decision required a full Environmental Impact Statement. The Alliance sued, alleging violations of NEPA. The district court found in favor of the Forest Service, and on appeal the Tenth Circuit affirmed. The court of appeals held, in a detailed fact-intensive opinion, that the Forest Service’s analysis in its Environmental Assessment and a Biological Assessment adequately considered the impacts on sensitive wetlands areas known as fens, and that the Alliance had failed to show that the Forest Service’s decision would generate conflicts between motorized and non-motorized recreational users.