It would appear the Alliance for the Wild Rockies isn’t participating in the formal public comment piece of the proceedings. The attached are objection responses for the East Reservoir (Kootenai) and Trapper Creek (BDNF) projects in Montana. Dated 7/17/14 and 10/17/14.
The summary is the AWR isn’t submitting specific written comments as required by 36-CFR-218, resulting in the dismissal of their objections. It would appear there is a bit of cutting and pasting from previous appeals going on.
Does this flagrant disregard for 36-CFR-218 mean the AWR loses standing to sue?
Will the USFS test this in court?
Is it just another tactic by the AWR to test it in court…and tie the project, and future projects, up in the 9th circuit?
Why can the AWR get away with not following procedural review…but the USFS can’t?
Sharon’s thoughts: When I was working for the Forest Service in a different Region, different people working in appeals and different attorneys had different ideas about what to do when appellants “didn’t get the appeal in on time” and “submitted an appeal without changing the name from the last project (or only changing the title)”. One example I remember concerned meeting the deadline. The appeals coordinator felt that “rules are rules and we need to enforce them for everyone.” But some of the OGC attorneys felt “we ought to cut them some slack because they might get mad and sue us or otherwise cause trouble.” My personal opinion is that this did not become an issue with permittees or the ski industry or whatever.. they were expected to follow the rules. It’s kind of easy to feel sorry for a shoestring operation (some of the environmental groups who did this actually were shoestring operations, but others clearly were much better off, than say, some permitees), but, on the other hand, rules are rules.
So I don’t know how this will work on these Montana projects. I just know, in my experience, there were a lot of different points of view in what was the “right thing to do.”
For those who wonder how these different points of view get resolved, in our case, we would write a letter (say denying the appeal), and the attorneys would sit in on the meeting in which we would brief the Deputy Regional Forester and give their point of view. But if OGC was going to push on it with the DRF or RF, I think the attorneys would check around among themselves to see if they shared the opinion first before deciding to push. If the DRF (the boss of me and our shop) agreed with the attorneys we would go back and do what the DRF said.
Anyway, is there anyone out there who can answer the reader’s questions with more current and relevant experience?
For those who are interested and have not worked in this area, I recommend you take a look at the links below.
Here are the links to the Regional Forester’s letters re the objections on Trapper Creek:
and East Reservoir.
Here are the responses on the two projects: