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U.S. Forest Service Pulls Medicine Bow Landscape Analysis Vegetation Project

June 21, 2019
Adam Rissien; 614-706-9374; arissien@wildearthguardians.org
In This Release
Public Lands  
#Rewilding, #WildlandsForWildlife
Deputy Regional Forester Jacqueline Buchanan announced on June 19, 2019 that Medicine Bow National Forest Supervisor Russell Bacon has halted the objection process for the Medicine Bow Landscape Analysis Vegetation (LaVA) Project, and withdrawn the draft Record of Decision.  According to Deputy Regional Forester Buchanan, Supervisor Bacon may reinitiate objection procedures at a later date, or may withdraw the proposed project.

The LaVA project, which was first proposed in 2017, was stiffly opposed by the general public, members of whom consistently expressed concern during every opportunity for public comment about the unprecedented scale of the project, lack of specific details and environmental analyses, proposed levels of road construction, loss of wildlife security habitat, impacts to inventoried roadless areas, and lack of meaningful analysis of climate change and economic impacts.

Medicine Bow Forest Supervisor Bacon came to his decision to halt the project process following a meeting on June 13 with residents who continued to object to the draft Record of Decision.

Laramie resident Duane Keown welcomed the news, saying, “Finally, the Forest Service has realized the serious flaws of this overreaching project, and has taken a step back.  We look forward to seeing the Forest Service properly follow the National Environmental Policy Act in future proposed activities on our public land.”

Under the draft Record of Decision, the Forest Service would have been able to log 360,000 acres over the next 15 years, including 123,000 acres in 25 designated roadless areas, and to build 600 miles of new, temporary roads.

Shaleas Harrison, Community Organizer with Wyoming Wilderness Association, noted that, “We applaud the Forest Service for stepping back, so we can make sure that management activities in roadless areas don’t cause unacceptable impacts to wildlife habitat and quiet recreational opportunities.”

According to Connie Wilbert, Sierra Club Wyoming Chapter, “The Forest Service is wisely backing away from a “leap first – look later” approach, where the agency would reveal specific on-the-ground project details only after they had given themselves a green light to approve all such projects.”

The Forest Service typically proposes an activity and evaluates environmental consequences before deciding whether or not to proceed.

“We are pleased the Forest Service is withdrawing what is perhaps the largest logging and road building project in all of Wyoming’s history.” said Adam Rissien, ReWilding Advocate at Wild Earth Guardians. “It is our hope the agency understands it cannot continue to propose these massive projects that circumvent our laws to protect the environment.”

The Forest Service did not provide to the public any timeframe for further action on the halted LaVA project.

Other Contact
Connie Wilbert; 307-460-8046; connie.wilbert@sierraclub.org, Shaleas Harrison; 272-7136; shaleas@wildwyo.org, Duane Keown, 307-721-4922; dkeown@uwyo.edu