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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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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Utah counties make plans for federal lands

Sagebrush Rebellion light? The state required counties to make these plans, which by itself should be a good thing (especially where there has historically been anti-planning sentiment). “This helps us to work with our federal partners to ensure Summit County’s interests are part of the conversation on how federal lands are managed,” said Sean Lewis, …

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Planning for pipelines – not

A Draft Record of Decision document released by the United States Forest Service would allow 11 exceptions to the Jefferson National Forest Plan and adopt an amendment that allows old growth forests, rare species and wetlands to be destroyed by the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline. The Draft Record of Decision (ROD)  states that “the proposed …

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9th Circuit takes out NFMA diversity requirement

In a 2-1 decision, which allowed the Big Thorne timber project to proceed on the Tongass National Forest, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a district court opinion that the Forest Service had complied with NFMA when it adopted forest plan direction related to managing old growth forest for deer to support viability of …

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A conservation plan puts science ahead of politics

This story about the Pima County Arizona conservation planning effort isn’t directly about national forests, though there should have been (and probably was) coordination with the Coronado National Forest.  And my point here isn’t about the success of a conservation plan driven by the need to protect at-risk species (arguably an ESA success story).  It’s about the …

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Are Trump’s climate censors at the door of forest planning?

In conjunction with publishing its notice of intent to prepare an EIS and draft forest plan, the Gila National Forest revealed a bit of the thinking going on on at least one national forest about whether they should continue to address climate change in the forest planning process. Throughout the assessment process, the Forest team took …

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Forest Service and BLM slightly lose sage grouse lawsuit in Nevada

The state of Nevada, nine counties, three mining companies, and a private ranch challenged the adoption of greater sage grouse conservation measures in Forest Service and BLM land management plans.  Most of the agency actions were upheld in Western Exploration v. USDI (D. Nevada), including compliance with FLPMA requirements of BLM for multiple use and …

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9th Circuit upholds EA for Shasta-Trinity logging project

The mantra I always use to hear was don’t use an EA if you might get sued.  Maybe things are different now?  Or maybe this was just one of those EAs that looked a lot like an EIS. The Project’s proposed treatment methods will retain all existing snags greater than 15 inches in diameter, “unless …

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