Litigation weekly Oct. 27

(nothing received for Oct. 20)

Litigation Weekly Oct 27

The district court upheld the Kootenai and Idaho Panhandle NF 2015 revised forest plans with regard to management of recommended wilderness areas, but the Kootenai planning process failed to provide for adequate public comments on recommendations to designate two river segments (D. Mont.) Also discussed here.

New cases

A preservation group and two ranches challenge the Modoc NF’s failure to remove excess wild horses as required by the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act and a territory management plan (E.D. Cal.).

This case concerns the Moose Creek Vegetation Project on the Helena-Lewis and Clark NF and the Healthy Forest Restoration Act Montana designations (D. Mont).

 

3 Comments

  1. Moose Creek is another Farm Bill CE, check out their documentation! It’s pretty substantial.
    http://data.ecosystem-management.org/nepaweb/nepa_project_exp.php?project=48912

    I think these folks did a terrific job on documentation. Kudos to the White Sulphur Springs Ranger District!!!

    I will add the link to the CE tab above (list of links to CE documentation).

    Jon and others: What is the current story on appeals/objections and CE’s? I think I missed a few twists and turns after I retired.

  2. Plaintiffs have a different opinion, and maybe we’ll get to find out if what the Forest Service is doing in this 85% of Montana forest that is not ponderosa pine is arbitrary and capricious: http://helenair.com/news/state-and-regional/environmental-groups-sue-over-white-sulphur-springs-timber-project/article_8d63b476-ea38-5902-8fe3-d932ebb94a14.html

    The article contains a link to the compliant (as does the original post above) which includes an extensive citation of research on “wildfire science” (starting at line 51). For example (from a 2004 paper), “Therefore, we expect fuel-reduction treatments in high-elevation forests to be generally unsuccessful in reducing fire frequency, severity, and size, given the overriding importance of extreme climate in controlling fire regimes in this zone. Thinning also will not restore subalpine forests, because they were dense historically and have not changed significantly in response to fire suppression. Thus, fuel-reduction efforts in most Rocky Mountain subalpine forests probably would not effectively mitigate the fire hazard, and these efforts may create new ecological problems by moving the forest structure outside the historic range of variability.”

    Plaintiffs say that the FS found this project to be eligible for the HFRA legislated CE because it was designated by Montana in accordance with “Section 8204 of the Agriculture Act of 2014 (Public Law 113-79), amending Title VI of the Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003.” I haven’t gotten into HFRA much, but it looks like this case will get into the question of when and how this CE may be used. According to Mike Garrity (quoted in the article), “What that means is that without the environmental analysis, there’s no solicitation of public review and no opportunity for comment, let alone the normal administrative review and objection process.”

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