NFS Litigation Summary mid-June, 2020

I didn’t receive a Forest Service June 19 “weekly,” but here’s what might have been covered:


On June 9, 2020, the Montana federal district court dissolved the injunction against the North Hebgen Multiple Resource Project on the Custer-Gallatin National Forest after the Forest addressed deficiencies related to elk hiding cover and wolverines.  (The opinion is short.)

On June 12, 2020, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld two thinning and prescribed burning projects (Hyde Park and Pacheco Canyon) on the Santa Fe National Forest.  The projects complied with HFRA and forest plan requirements for old growth and wildlife, properly applied the relevant categorical exclusion, and adequately addressed cumulative effects.

On June 12, the Idaho federal district court denied plaintiff’s injunction request, finding no likelihood of success on the claims under the Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act.  (The court also denied a request by the Forest Service for an order for plaintiffs to stop harassing work crews with a helicopter, viewing it as a one-time occurrence.)


On June 10, 2020, plaintiffs sued the Forest Service and U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the Arizona federal district court seeking removal of 14 summer homes and a bible camp subject to special-use permits in order to protect the remaining canopied habitat on the Coronado National Forest upon which the federally endangered Mt. Graham red squirrel now relies.  (Additional background here.)


Plaintiffs filed a motion for summary judgment in their lawsuit against the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and U.S. Forest Service regarding the effects of the Rock Creek Mine on the Kootenai National Forest on grizzly bears and bull trout.  (Last discussed here.)

Plaintiffs decided not to seek a preliminary injunction in their lawsuit against the Forest Service and U.S. Customs and Border Protection when the agencies informed them that there would be no construction activities until the summer of 2021 on the Bog Creek Road project, located just south of the Canadian border on the Idaho Panhandle National Forest.

The Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest announced it is withdrawing the Elk Smith project, involving prescribed fire in a roadless area.


On June 17, 2020, a coalition of conservation groups filed a formal notice of their intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for its failure to protect the bi-state sage-grouse population under the Endangered Species Act.  The species occurs on the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest which has been involved in this long process, as noted here.

The federal government filed a complaint claiming that J-Spear Ranch of Paisley, Oregon, started the 2018 Watson Creek Fire that burned 46,000 acres in the Fremont-Winema National Forest, resulting in at least $14 million worth of losses in timber, habitat, water protection and environmental values, as well as fire suppression and rehabilitation costs.

A Mexican national pleaded guilty in federal court last week to cultivating over 1,000 marijuana plants in Sequoia National Forest.

Four conservation groups filed motions to intervene on the side of Ventura County and against the Ventura County Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business, and the California Construction and Industrial Materials Association in their lawsuit against two ordinances protecting designated wildlife corridors connecting the Los Padres National Forest, Santa Monica Mountains and Simi Hills.  (No word on whether the Forest Service will also intervene to coordinate with other land managers having land relevant to maintaining viable populations of wildlife, 36 CFR §219.9(b)(2)(ii).)

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