Litigation news that didn’t make the NFS Litigation Weekly



The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said EPA has failed to develop temperature limits as required under the Clean Water Act for the Pacific Northwest’s Columbia and Snake rivers to help endangered salmon and steelhead.  It directly affects Washington and Oregon, but could affect public land management in other states that do not have temperature limits, and especially with a warming climate.


A federal judge in Washington, D.C., heard oral arguments in a lawsuit that could determine the fate of the highly controversial copper-nickel mine that would be built near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in the Superior National Forest.  The case centers on the terms of the Twin Metals leases, which were first issued in 1966 and renewed twice before the Obama Administration denied them and then the Trump Administration reinstated them.  A good summary and map.  Also, legislation has been introduced to prevent future mine proposals.

Congress passed a fiscal year 2020 spending bill that includes prohibiting the U.S. Forest Service from euthanizing healthy wild horses and burros and selling them for slaughter.   This is a direct response to the Forest Service’s plan to sell California wild horses captured in the Modoc National Forest without limitation on slaughter, which resulted in two lawsuits introduced here.

The parties have filed briefs in this case filed by local residents against a logging project on the White River National Forest.

A lawsuit against the BLM involving the entire range of the Tiehm’s buckwheat (described here) was settled when the mining proponent ceased exploration at the site, and the BLM subsequently terminated its formal exploration notices. The company also said it wouldn’t seek such approval again without notifying the conservation group

  • Fire liability

Two more settlements in a lawsuit arising from a 2013 prescribed burn on the Dakota Prairie National Grasslands that became a wildfire have taken the cost to the federal government to nearly $900,000. It burned 3,519 acres of private lands.  But in Colorado, a judge has recommended that the federal government be allowed to pursue its case against the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad for its $25 million cost of fighting the 416 Fire, which started along the train’s tracks and burned more than 54,000 acres of mostly national forest lands in 2018.


This is a Canadian case that pits a windfarm developer against a government that allegedly wants to discourage wind energy and used harm to bats as its reason for rejecting the proposal.  It is interesting because conservationists are supporting the developer. “We can have bats and green energy co-exist,” Dr. Baerwald said, arguing climate change, not wind power, is the greatest threat.

Three lawsuits have been filed against the state of Washington’s new timber plan, which a reduces timber harvest levels.  Lawsuits have been filed by the county, the forest industry and environmentalists.  The latter two are also challenging a related plan to conserve marbled murrelets, including consideration of climate change.

Leave a Comment