NFS Litigation Weekly July 10 to July 24, 2020

Forest Service summaries are found here:  Litigation Weekly July 24 2020 Email

Links to court documents are provided for each case below.


Helena Hunters and Anglers Association v. Marten.  On July 1, 2020, the District Court for Montana issued an order against the Forest Service regarding the Tenmile South Project on the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest. The court determined that the Forest Service  violated the Roadless Area Conservation Rule and NEPA, and also ESA regarding the effect of new recreational trails on grizzly bears.  This case was also included here.

Sawtooth Mountain Ranch LLC v. United States Forest Service. On June 30, 2020, the District Court for Idaho denied the plaintiff’s second motion for preliminary injunction seeking to halt construction on the Stanley to Redfish Trail Project on the Sawtooth National Forest.

Sierra Trail Dogs Motorcycle and Recreation Club v. U.S. Forest Service. (On July 6, 2020, the District Court of Nevada issued a decision favorable to the Forest Service regarding the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest’s Greater Sage-grouse Bi-State Distinct Population Segment Forest Plan Amendment, concerning an off-highway vehicle use standard.  This case was also referenced here.

Friends of the Clearwater v. Higgins. On July 13, 2020, the District Court of Idaho denied the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction concerning the Brebner Flat Project on the Idaho Panhandle National Forest. The court determined that the plaintiffs showed a likelihood of success on the merits on their Endangered Species Act claims concerning the project’s potential impacts on the grizzly bear and Canada lynx, but not the irreparable harm needed for an injunction.


Friends of the Clearwater v. Christiansen. On June 26, 2020, the plaintiffs filed a complaint in the District Court of Idaho against the Forest Service and National Marine Fisheries Service regarding the Record of Decision that was signed on July 1, 2019, and the Biological Opinion and Incidental Take Statements related to listed steelhead, authorizing the Lolo Insect and Disease Project on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests.  This case was also included here.

Friends of the Bitterroot v. Anderson.  On July 10, 2020, the plaintiffs filed a complaint in the District Court of Montana against the Forest Service regarding the Gold Butterfly Project on the Bitterroot National Forest, and a project-specific forest plan amendment for standards relating to elk habitat effectiveness and elk habitat objectives.  On July 2, plaintiffs also sent the Forest Service a 60-day Notice of Intent to sue over the project’s potential effects on grizzly bears, wolverines and bull trout.  More background is provided here.

Board of County Commissioners of the County of Pitkin Colorado, v. Rock Creek Association.  On July 1, 2020, the plaintiff filed a complaint in the District Court of Colorado against the Forest Service and Rock Creek Association concerning public access to the Wild Rose Ranch Subdivision through a right-of-way in Pitkin County on the White River National Forest.



On July 6, 2020, a U.S. magistrate judge recommended that a Bureau of Land Management prescribed burning project in the Elkhorn Mountains, Iron Mask, be halted as a court case proceeds.

California v. Bernhardt.  On July 15, 2020, the Northern District of California federal district court vacated the BLM’s 2018 rule regulating methane waste, which had rescinded a more restrictive 2016 rule.

“The Court details herein the myriad inadequacies upon which the Rescission is based. First, the Court provides the factual and procedural background and the legal framework for its decision. (Sections I and II.) In Section III, the Court analyzes the statutory mandate of the Mineral Leasing Act and BLM’s attempt to narrow the same by employing a new economic definition of “waste” which the Court finds to have been arbitrary. Section IV then explains how BLM’s actions in the rulemaking process failed to comply with the Administrative Procedures Act. Section V focuses on BLM’s failure to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”). Finally, in Section VI, the Court explains how, given the circumstances, no reason exists to depart from the standard remedy of vacatur.”

The Center for Biological Diversity sued the Trump administration on July 21 for failing to release public records on the termination of a program to restore grizzly bears to the North Cascades in Washington (a lawsuit against the decision was noted here). The Center filed its initial Freedom of Information Act request in December 2017.

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