January 2020 Litigation, Part 2

(Court decision/update)  The Northern District of California District Court has denied plaintiff’s request for a preliminary injunction (and removed a temporary restraining order) for Ranch Fire salvage projects on the Mendocino National Forest using the road maintenance categorical exclusion addressed previously here.  An appeal has been filed with the 9th Circuit.

  • Atlantic Coast Pipeline

(Update)  The hearing in the Supreme Court is scheduled for February 24. At issue is the green light that the U.S. Forest Service gave the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to cross the Appalachian Trail within the George Washington National Forest.  The key question is whether the Appalachian Trail comprises “lands in the National Park System,” which would preclude the Forest Service from making this decision because of language in the Mineral Leasing Act.  The pipeline is also being blocked by failure to comply with ESA for the rusty patched bumblebee, and a draft recovery plan has just been released.

(Update) This case involving the Caribou-Targhee National Forest was filed last summer, and briefing in the District Court of Idaho is scheduled this spring. The plaintiffs believe the vegetation treatments scheduled for this summer to improve forage would come at the expense of wildlife, especially sharp-tailed grouse, and that a categorical exclusion is improper due to the area’s “wilderness value and roadless value.”  Plaintiffs say this is one of the first cases where the Forest Service is trying to test the Idaho Roadless Rule.

(Update)  The BLM in Colorado has dropped some of the parcels from its planned leases because they are not available under the 2015 sage grouse amendments to its land use plan.  They were made available by the 2019 changes to the amendments, but those were enjoined in October in Western Watersheds v. Schneider.  They have also deferred other parcels as a result of an October lawsuit against the BLM Grand Junction Field Office’s new resources management plan.  (There’s a picture of the new BLM Headquarters.)

(Settlement)  Plaintiffs have settled a lawsuit filed in a California state court against Placer County’s approval of a gondola connecting two ski resorts on the Tahoe National Forest.   The agreement was finalized as part of the Forest Service’s final approval of the gondola that will skirt the Granite Chief Wilderness Area, which is home to the endangered Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog.  The proponents agreed to permanently protect 27 acres of frog habitat and contribute about $500,000 over the next decade toward land purchases and other protection efforts.

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