Here’s a report from the FS on the win:
District Court Upholds Millie Roadside Hazard Tree Removal Project on the Gallatin National Forest in Native Ecosystems Council v. Krueger. On June 4, 2014, the United States District Court for the District of Montana ruled in favor of the Forest Service in Plaintiffs, Native Ecosystems Council and Alliance for the Wild Rockies’, challenge to the Millie Roadside Hazard Tree Removal Project on the Gallatin National Forest. On Plaintiffs’ ESA claims related to grizzly bear, the Court found Plaintiffs failed to demonstrate (1) that the Project would result in an unauthorized take of grizzly bear in violation of ESA Section 9; (2) how the Forest Service would have reached a different decision had they utilized the most recent reports regarding secure habitat (Plaintiffs alleged that the Forest Service had failed to utilize Best Available Scientific Information); and (3) how the project will adversely affect the grizzly bear in violation of ESA Section 7. Plaintiffs also raised ESA claims related to lynx. On lynx, the Court found that its decision in Salix v. U.S. Forest Service did not require the Project to be enjoined because the determination that the Project would not adversely affect lynx or lynx critical habitat was not contingent upon the 2007 Northern Rockies Lynx Amendment. On Salix’s applicability the Court concluded, “…a project affecting lynx or lynx critical habitat may be appropriately and reasonably approved even if the agencies’ analysis mentions or relies in part on the Lynx Amendment, so long as the agencies’ analysis also contains a reasonable independent basis for its conclusions with respect to effects on lynx and lynx critical habitat.” (In Salix the Court determined that the designation of critical habitat triggers the need for reinitation of consultation and ordered the Forest Service to reinitiate consultation on the Lynx amendment.) Finally, the Court found that the Forest Service had reasonably concluded that the Project fell within the categorical exclusion for road maintenance, and had correctly concluded that the use of the categorical exclusion is appropriate because no extraordinary circumstances preclude it. (13-00167, D. Mont.)
Really… they were saying falling hazard trees would affect grizzlies and lynx? I guess it’s one thing to declaim it and and another thing to prove it in court.. but still it is hard to imagine it in Physical World. And I continue to wonder whether there might be more useful investments in promoting wildlife habitat or protecting the environment?
(Edit: Here is a picture of me, from the Eldorado NF’s Power Fire Salvage projects. The top 30 feet or more was also dead, and the picture was taken from the road. The logger ripped the butt log, in an attempt to get more scale. There were five 16’s and three 33’s to a broken top of 20″ diameter….. Larry H. )