Forest Service Litigation Weekly June 30, 2017

I have sadly fallen behind in posting these, and my previous workaround stopped working, so will be catching up…

1. Land Use I Region 1
The District of North Dakota ruled favorably for the Forest Service on actions filed by North Dakota and several counties seeking quite title to claims of section line rights-of-way on the Dakota Prairie Grasslands. The order consolidated North Dakota et al. v. United States of America and Billings County et al. v. United States of America. ….(more in the original LW)

The court ultimately agreed with the U.S. Specifically, the court found “the 1976/1977 Travel Plans for Sheyenne National Grassland and Little Missouri National Grassland and accompanying ‘Public Notice’ and signage, as well as the Public Notices issued by the Forest Service in 1982, 1984, and 1988, as to the Sheyenne national Grassland” were sufficient to put North Dakota on notice of the United States’ claim to
exclusive control over the 33 feet on either side of the section lines and trigger the QTA limitation period. As the plaintiffs’ complaints were filed more than 12 years after the travel plans and public notices, the plaintiffs’ claims were barred by the statute of limitations. (12-125 and 12-102, D.N.D.)

NEW CASE

1. Recreation and Land Use I Region 6

Plaintiffs filed suit in the District of Oregon challenging the Summit Trail System Project on the Ochoco National Forest claiming violations of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) the Travel Management Rule, and the National Forest Management Act (NFMA) in WildEarth Guardians et al. v. Forson et al. The project proposes to establish a 137-mile trail system open to motorized vehicle use during certain times of year.
According to the complaint, the project violates NFMA because it does not comply with the Ochoco National Forest Plan. The complaint contends the project: 1) is inconsistent with the plan’s standards and guidelines for Rocky Mountain Elk and Mule Deer habitat; 2) fails to comply with the road density standards and guidelines; 3) fails to comply with the recreation opportunity spectrum; 4) fails to comply with standards and guidelines for recreation impacts on riparian habitat; and 5) fails to comply with the standards and guidelines for old growth and scabland areas.

The project, as per the complaint, violates the Travel Management Rule because it: 1) fails to minimize damage to soils, watersheds, vegetation and other natural resources; 2) does not minimize harassment of wildlife or significant disruption of wildlife habitat; and 3) fails to minimize conflicts among different types of forest uses.

Plaintiffs’ NEPA claims are based on the assertion the project fails “to take a hard look at the direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of the Forest Service’s proposed actions.” Plaintiffs believe the Forest Service did not: 1) provide accurate baseline data to evaluate the environmental impacts of the project; 2) take a hard look at the impacts the project would have on gray wolves and elk; or 3) take a hard look at the cumulative impact of the project and other projects and activities near the project area. (17-1004, D. Or.)

Litigation Weekly June 30
Wild Earth Guardians v Forson complaint Ochoco Summit trails
ND v USND v US

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