The Forest Service summaries are here: Litigation Weekly August 21_28 2020 Email Final
Related court documents are included as a link below.
Alliance for the Wild Rockies v. USFS (D. Idaho)- On August 11, 2020, the district court ruled against the Forest Service on the Lost Creek-Boulder Creek Landscape Restoration Project on the Payette National Forest. The court held that the Forest failed to explain how changing the desired conditions (without amending the forest plan) would achieve the existing desired condition and therefore it violated the forest plan. (Plaintiffs version of the story is here. We had a long discussion of the Ninth Circuit’s decision on the original project here.)
- (No linked court documents)
United States of America v. Robertson (D. Montana) – On August 7, 2020, the district court of Montana found defendant liable for trespass and damages associated with the White Pine patented mining claim on the Beaverhead-Deer Lodge National Forest.
Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center v. Grantham (E.D. Cal.) — On August 12, 2020, the district court issued a Stipulation for Dismissal without Prejudice regarding the Crawford Vegetation Project on the Klamath National Forest because the Forest Service withdrew the decision. (We discussed the issues in this case here.)
Los Padres Forest Watch v. U.S. Forest Service (C.D. Cal.) – On August 20, 2020, the district court upheld the Tecuya Ridge Shaded Fuelbreak Project on the Los Padres National Forest, which used the categorical exclusion for “timber stand and/or wildlife habitat improvement activities.” (We had an even longer discussion of this case here.)
Center for Biological Diversity v. Leverete (D. D.C.) — On August 5, 2020 the plaintiffs filed a complaint against the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Forest Service concerning the 4-year extension of 13 prospecting permits on the Superior National Forest to Twin Metals Minnesota LLC, for proposed sulfide-ore copper mine at the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. (This is the latest of many lawsuits related to mining there, including this one (Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters) and this one (Wilderness Society. This article includes a map.)
Round v. USDA (D. Colo.)- On July 17, 2020, Plaintiff filed a complaint claiming property rights in grazing allotments and improvements on the Pike and San Isabel National Forest, Cimarron and Comanche National Grasslands.
State of Alaska, Department of Fish and Game v. Federal Subsistence Board (D. Alaska) — The Forest Service and BLM were included in this complaint filed on August 10, 2020 involving the operation and decisions of the Board regarding native and non-native hunting rights on federal lands.
Nez Perce Tribe v. Midas Gold Corp (D. Idaho) — On August 18, 2020 Midas Gold (defendant) in this case, filed a proposed Third Party motion against the Forest Service to join this case, or in the alternate, to consolidate this case with the action Midas Gold Idaho, Inc. v. United States, concerning the Stibnite Gold Project on the Payette and Boise National Forests and alleged violations of the Clean Water Act by the Forest Service.
- (No linked court documents, but the complaint is here.)
Citizens for a Healthy Community v. U. S. Bureau of Land Management (D. Colo.) – On August 19, 2020 the plaintiffs filed a complaint against the BLM, concerning the agency’s approval of a revised Resource Management Plan for BLM’s Uncompahgre Field Office (UFO) in southwestern Colorado, which opens 871,810 acres of BLM, other federal lands and private mineral rights to oil and gas leases. (Here is some local coverage.)
(New case.) The Cottonwood Environmental Law Center has sued the Custer-Gallatin National Forest for failing to reconsider its 1987 forest plan direction based on new scientific information about the ineffectiveness of fuel treatments on wildfire prior to implementing these projects. (The forest plan is currently being revised.)
- Migratory Bird Treaty Act (this article includes a link to the opinion)
(Other agency court decision.) NRDC v. U. S. Department of the Interior – On August 11, 2020, a federal district court in New York ruled that the unintentional or incidental “take” of migratory birds is a crime under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The law is best known for its use in fining those responsible for large oil spills, with the money being used for restoration purposes, but it can come up in Forest Service litigation. The Forest Service has an MOU with the Fish and Wildlife Service obligating it to “address the conservation of migratory bird habitat and populations when developing, amending, or revising management plans for national forests and grasslands…”