Forest Service wins 2

The Forest Service turned back a challenge on the Manti-La Sal National Forest to its management of a research natural area in Utah Native Plant Society v. U. S. Forest Service. The state of Utah had introduced mountain goats outside of the national forest boundary, over the objections of the Forest Service that they could …

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Do elk need trees? Maybe.

This is an update to a September 12 post “Do elk need trees?”  The Forest punted the issue to its forest plan revision: http://helenair.com/news/natural-resources/forest-service-withdraws-controversial-big-game-standard/article_e5e22d8b-41f3-535f-94e6-58e098c86958.html The first draft of the proposed Helena-Lewis and Clark revised forest plan punts elk security to project-level decision making. Here’s the draft guideline: “In order to influence elk distribution on NFS …

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Do elk need trees?

For many years, it has been pretty much common knowledge, supported by science, that as the amount of hunting season open roads increases, there is more need for cover for elk to hide.  The Helena National forest plan (and others) have incorporated this relationship into standards for elk security.  (Full disclosure – I had something …

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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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Some better things coming from the Blues (Mtns.)

Since I criticized the FS there in a couple of previous posts, here’s a couple of things I think they’ve done right. It’s important that the public understand the relationship between forest planning and travel management planning, and this explanation from the Wallowa-Whitman is reasonably clear.  I think it should work about as well as …

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Beaverhead-Deerlodge Forest Plan NEPA not site-specific enough

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge (B-D) National Forest’s revised forest plan to designate areas for use by winter motorized vehicles. It found that the forest plan EIS failed to provide analysis that was site-specific enough to make an informed decision, as required by NEPA, and that the planning …

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Clearwater travel plan remanded (again)

Environmental plaintiffs successfully overturned the Clearwater National Forest travel plan in district court (newspaper coverage here). There are some implications for forest planning. The court found the travel plan to be inconsistent with the forest plan’s requirement for elk habitat effectiveness (EHE) because it used the same methodology to evaluate EHE that was used for …

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How the sue and settle process really works

This 6-page opinion includes a discussion of how courts decide whether to approve a consent decree. The case also demonstrates the ability of intervenors to influence the outcome.  In this case environmental groups intervened in a lawsuit by motorized users over a travel plan decision.  Because of the intervenors, the court refused to approve the …

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Final policy for managing over-snow vehicle use

Let winter travel planning begin.  Not something the Forest Service wanted to do, but the result of a court decision that found the Forest Service incorrectly exempted snowmobiles from the travel planning regulations.  Here is the new regulation and a news article. Over-snow vehicle use on National Forest System roads, on National Forest System trails, and …

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