Silence Is Golden
Wilderness areas are, by definition, areas with little human impact. Motorized activities are not allowed. High in the Rocky Mountains, in an area known as the Palisades that straddles the Wyoming and Idaho borders, rare wolverines still find the solitude they need to make their dens and raise their young. So when the Forest Service wanted to allow a major expansion of helicopter skiing in the Palisades Wilderness Study Area border area, eyebrows were raised. So were alarm and opposition.
Protecting the Palisades
The Forest Service was mandated by Congress to preserve the 1984 wilderness character of the Palisades WSA. Back then, fewer than 100 heliskiers used the Palisades. The Forest Service issued a ten-year permit that would allow up to 1,200 helicopter skiers a year. Conservationists, represented by Earthjustice, challenged the permit in federal court, charging that the Forest Service did not conduct a proper environmental review.
Taking Back the Slopes
The federal judge agreed with the conservationists, and approved a four-year plan among the conservationists, the Forest Service, and the helicopter-skiing vendor to reduce the number of skiing visits to 1984 levels.