A test of the 2014 insect and disease categorical exclusion

The Center for Biological diversity is suing the Tahoe National Forest for its decision on the Sunny South timber sale. The sale is designed to “reduce the extent and risk of insect infestations, as well as to reduce the negative effects of those infestations on forest health and resilience.” Plaintiffs allege, “Six (California spotted) owl territories …

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Science consistency review on the southern Sierra national forests

The draft revised Sierra, Sequoia and Inyo national forest plans include aggressive restoration programs across the forest, including logging areas of existing old forest structure to protect old forests and associated wildlife species.  The Forest Service has asked (unidentified) reviewers to look at the draft forest plans and draft EIS and address these questions in the …

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Court holds up mining project after fire affects sensitive plant

On July 11, the Idaho federal district court reversed a Forest Service decision to approve a mining exploration project on the Boise National Forest. The legal issues arose when the Grimes Fire burned habitat for the Sacajawea bitterroot (abbreviated “LESA”), in an area supporting the largest population of a plant designated as a sensitive species …

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Fracking on the Wayne National Forest – no significant impact

This story got me to look closer at planning for fracking on national forests.  The reason the BLM can say this in their EA is arguably because a lease does not “authorize surface disturbing activities.”  Here’s the way it works. “The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) proposes to lease up to approximately 40,000 federally-owned minerals …

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Nez Perce Clearwater salvage project enjoined

The Idaho District Court enjoined the Johnson Bar Salvage Project on May 12, finding  violations of NEPA and the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.  During the time between the release of the DEIS in March of 2015, and the publication of the FEIS in October of 2015, timber harvesting activities on burned state and private lands …

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Even the 9th Circuit piles onto plaintiffs

On May 6, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Montana district court’s opinion in Alliance for the Wild Rockies v. Weber.  The Flathead National Forest Precommercial Thinning Project would thin about 500 acres a year in bull trout grizzly bear and arguably lynx habitat, and the decision was based on a categorical exclusion. …

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Project complies with spotted owl recovery plan requirement in Shasta-Trinity forest plan

The Eastern California district court upheld the Harris Project on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest on Feb. 26. The project would treat about 2800 acres in northern spotted owl habitat. The Forest Service determined that the project would be “not likely to adversely affect” spotted owls, and the Fish and Wildlife Service concurred. The court found …

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Wish you were on the Dixie?

The Utah federal district court upheld the Dixie National Forest decision on the Iron Springs Project (argued at a hearing in July 2014) in Alliance for the Wild Rockies v. Bulletts. The Project involves a range of vegetation management activities including intermediate harvest treatments, salvage of timber killed by or dying as a result of …

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Another classic settlement

A follow up to an earlier post on ATV litigation on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. “Under the settlement, the Forest Service agreed not to authorize public use to all-terrain vehicles without first completing an assessment of environmental effects. The agency also agreed to re-survey routes and remove any remaining signs authorizing ATV use.” “The federal agency …

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Settlement: opening roads to motorized use requires NEPA (take 2)

It’s the Pike-San Isabel this time.  The issue appears to be “unauthorized and unanalyzed” routes.  It’s not clear whether those are two different things, but I think the point is that when a Motor Vehicle Use Map allows motorized use on user-created (“unauthorized?”) roads, the map becomes an authorization that triggers NEPA, ESA, NFMA consistency …

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