1) FS responds to AWR and others’ comments by reducing projects.
2) AWR litigates anyway
3) Plaintiffs’ complaints are solely based on relatively insignificant alleged procedural missteps and they point to no actual or even reasonably potential harm the Project will cause to any of the relevant species.
It sounds like something I would say. In this case, it is hard to argue that AWR is all about making the FS “follow the law”. In fact, it is difficult to understand what it is really about other than the potential power of sitting in settlement meetings and determining outcomes. Even then, though, some of the dogs AWR is choosing won’t hunt.
From page 3. My italics.
This Project is the most innocuous logging project to be challenged in this Court to date. The Project was dramatically reduced in scope following public comment, primarily by the Plaintiffs, from 12,563 acres to approximately 3,650 acres. Only 500 acres will be thinned per year. No roads will be reopened or created for Project use. Only hand trimming will be performed, with hand tools used near bull trout critical habitat. The trees that will be thinned fall far short of commercial size–most are one to five inches in diameter and only a few feet tall.
In short, this Project, compared to the majority of projects that come before the Court, is truly designed to promote and restore forest health, and will benefit the endangered species inhabiting the Flathead National Forest. Plaintiffs’ complaints are solely based on relatively insignificant alleged procedural missteps by the Forest Service, and they point to no actual or even reasonably potential harm the Project will cause to any of the relevant species. For these reasons, as well as the legal analysis to follow, Plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment will be denied and Defendants’ motion will be granted.
Here’s the whole document: Flathead Decision.
I checked out who the officers are and here’s a link. If you know any of them, ask the question “why did you pick this one?” I think we’d be curious as to the answers.
Again, I think if a mediation session open to the public were required beforehand this might have been kept out of the courtroom and the resulting waste of judges, lawyers and FS employees’ time. My previous efforts to understand Mr. Garrity’s point of view and choice of projects can be found here (whitebark pine) and here (Colt Summit). It seems so simple that if folks litigate projects, they should be asked upfront what they hope to achieve and why, without violating “basic democratic principles.” If they were member organizations, we could join and ask them to become members of the Transparent Litigators Coalition. I like the acronym, anyway :).