(Court decision) In Alliance for the Wild Rockies v. Marten, the Montana federal district court has lifted the injunctions against the Bozeman Municipal Watershed Fuels Reduction Project and the East Boulder Fuel Reduction Project on the Custer-Gallatin National Forest because they have properly consulted on critical habitat for Canada lynx for both the forest plan and the projects, and no supplemental EIS was required. This was discussed most recently here.
(Court decision) In Conservation Congress v. U. S. Forest Service, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed the district court and upheld the Bagley Hazard Tree Abatement Project on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest against ESA and NEPA claims related to northern spotted owls. A report on the hearing is here. (And here is some discussion on this blog from 2013.)
(Court decision) In Pacific Rivers v. BLM, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court and the BLM and upheld the 2016 amendments to its western Oregon resource management plans against ESA and NEPA claims related to listed fish species. (They’re not calling it WOPR any more, but I think this was what happened after BLM lost in court on the first try, discussed here.)
(Settlement) In response to a lawsuit, the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement agreed to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to review the impacts of coal mining across the country on endangered species. While plaintiffs seem most interested in West Virginia, active coal mining occurs on national forests in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and Kentucky.
(New lawsuit) Monroe County (IN) and two environmental groups filed a lawsuit to stop the Houston South Vegetation Management and Restoration Project on the Hoosier National Forest, which they believe will pollute Lake Monroe, a major drinking water source for the area, and harm the endangered Indiana bat.
(New lawsuit) Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and the Western Watersheds Project have sued the Trump Administration for illegally filling the positions of the directors of the BLM and National Park Service with temporary, non-confirmed appointments.
In other Endangered Species Act news:
(Update) A federal judge has agreed that 17 states may be harmed by Trump Administration changes in the Endangered Species Act regulations, so their lawsuit against these changes may proceed. However, he found that was not the case for environmental and animal-rights groups and dismissed their complaints.
Following litigation, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed the southern Sierra Pacific fisher for listing as endangered, but denied a similar petition for the northern California/southern Oregon population, where “threats were mitigated by fuel reduction projects aimed at reducing wildfire severity and partnerships with timber companies to limit logging in Oregon.”
The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed designation of critical habitat in Arizona and New Mexico riparian areas for the narrow-headed garter snake and the northern Mexican garter snake. While it excluded private lands with conservation agreements and other public lands with adequate protective measures in place, a study had concluded that generally, the Forest Service does a poor job of enforcing existing restrictions on grazing leases.
The last two cases suggest that improved conservation measures for national forest lands might have made a difference and avoided these designations.