"Plaintiffs have alleged that as a result of mountaintop mining practices, they have suffered adverse impact, including loss of community, diminished value of property, degradation of water and air quality, and significant reductions of the quantity and variety of wildlife, diminishing hunting, fishing, nature observation and other recreational opportunities, among other things," he wrote.
In an accompanying memorandum, Wolfe argued that "maps, photographs, videotapes, by themselves, would not be as effective in informing the Court as to the nature of mountaintop mining operations as coupling such evidence with a viewing.
"Such concepts as valley fills and reclamation to approximate original contour can best be considered only in the context of the environment in which they exist," he wrote.
In his court filings, Wolfe cites a case in which a federal judge in Oregon toured a timber sale site during a lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service over the logging deal.
In that case, Wolfe wrote, "News gatherers would be allowed to accompany the court and counsel during the view itself" but would not be allowed to interview the judge or lawyers during the tour.
"My expectation was that the view would be just that - a view, and not a testimony-taking session," the judge wrote in the Oregon case Wolfe cited.
"I wanted to have representatives of the Forest Service point out to me, at my request, geographic and physical features so that I could orient myself in light of the maps and other items of evidence received in the earlier court sessions," the judge wrote.
"I did not wish to be distracted; nor did I wish counsel to be distracted."