“Hunting group sues to stop Ochoco off-road trails”

This is about the Ochoco Summit Trail System Project: The project proposes to designate a trail system in the Ochocos specifically for off-highway vehicles. The trail would be open seasonally and it would be built using mostly existing roads and trails tied together by some currently open roads. It would be a system where motorcycles, …

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Politicians vs science

Ideology was on display at a grandstanding event on the Lolo Peak Fire. Secretary Sonny Perdue, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Congressman Greg Gianforte and Senator Steve Daines got a briefing from the fire management team, and then held a short press conference. Senator Daines repeated a refrain that Montana Republicans have been saying for years: …

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Court buys FS interpretation of viability for bighorn sheep

On July 31, the federal district court for Wyoming found that the revised Medicine Bow National Forest Plan met the requirement of the 1982 planning regulations to manage habitat “to maintain viable populations of existing native and desired non-native vertebrate species in the planning area.”  At issue was the meaning of additional language in the …

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Forest plans and “valid existing rights”

This is about forest plan litigation – sort of.  The Michigan Wilderness Act included a provision protecting “valid existing rights.”  A series of forest plan amendments by the Ottawa National Forest imposed restrictions on motor boat use on a lake that was mostly within a wilderness area but partly touching private land.  A 2007 Forest …

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Forest Service wins A to Z

The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court denial of a preliminary injunction for the North Fork Mill Creek A to Z Project on the Colville National Forest, which has been discussed here. Of note, the question of contractor-NEPA was not addressed, although the court said that the Forest Service “reviewed and approved” the EA, and …

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Some red meat for the anti-litigation crowd

Here’s a story about an enjoined timber sale that might be burning up right now.  It will no doubt become Exhibit A for arguing why we should not allow the public to sue the government over its land management decisions. “Both the Park Creek and Arrastra Fires on the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest were …

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Court: “There is no ‘oops’ exception to the duty of federal agencies to engage in reasoned decision making”

This case about wild horses on national forests shows how courts tend to look at agencies changing their minds (for whatever reason).  “The judges said decades of history and practice by the Forest Service can’t be swept away by calling the original decision a mistake.”  There is a process for remaking decisions – even “mistakes.” …

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Arbitration/Mediation Pilots? The Westerman Bill and Other Ideas

I think it might be interesting to examine and discuss some of the specific ideas in the Westerman bill. The text of the arbitration section of the Westerman Bill is Title III subtitle B here. I like the idea of pilots- perhaps have two or three approaches and at the end of two years have …

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Tennessee Creek Project in Colorado- Successful EA for Large Project

This case is from the July 28, 2017 Litigation Weekly but maybe deserves separate discussion. Previously folks have said you shouldn’t do EA’s but should do EIS’s, seemingly based on case law more than the NEPA regulations themselves (or as it has been characterized “DOJ won’t defend EA’s”). So we had been watching to see …

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FS Litigation Weekly July 21, 2017

The CERCLA case was mentioned on the blog before, plus I think this Ochoco travel management is interesting in terms wolves in the project area (I worked on the Ochoco way pre-current-wolves). Court Decisions 1. CERCLA I Region 3 The 10th Circuit ruled on a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) case involving …

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