NFS Litigation Weekly November 20, 2020 and November 27, 2020

The Forest Service summaries are provided via these links:

Litigation Weekly November 20 2020 FINAL EMAIL (1)

Litigation Weekly November 27 2020 FINAL email

November 20

(Notice of Intent.)  On October 23, the Alliance for the Wild Rockies notified the Forest Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service of their intent to sue regarding the effects on grizzly bears of the Soldier-Butler Project and compliance with the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem Forest Plan Amendment (for grizzly bears) biological opinion on the Lolo National Forest.  Two complaints have already been filed on this project.

  • Sierra Club v. United States Army Corps of Engineers

(Update – no detailed summary provided.)  On November 9, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to pause developers’ use of a streamlined water permit (issued by the U.S. Corps of Engineers) for the Mountain Valley pipeline. Construction may continue in upland areas of the pipeline’s route, except for those on the Jefferson National Forest affected by this prior injunction.

November 27

(New case.)  On November 19, 2020 the Center for Biological Diversity filed a complaint in the District Court of Nevada against the Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, concerning implementation of the Lee Canyon Ski Area Master Development Plan on the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest (and a related amendment to the forest plan), which would provide summer use infrastructure and affect the federally endangered Mt. Charleston Blue Butterfly.



(New case against USFWS.)  On November 3, 2020, the United States Fish & Wildlife Service published a final rule removing the gray wolf from the federal list of Endangered and Threatened Species in the lower 48 United States and Mexico.  The Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity have sent the Service a notice of intent to sue to overturn the rule.  (The link above includes the long, complicated history of wolves under ESA.)

(New case.)  In September, Paul and Cathy Donohoe, of Donohoe Outfitting, and five other family members filed suit in the Montana U.S. District Court seeking to prevent a trail from being built that would allegedly threaten grizzly bears. The Donohoes protested the work in part because it would increase traffic close to their ranch.

(Update.)  In Center for Biological Diversity v. U. S. Forest Service, the Arizona federal district court denied a government motion to dismiss claims against the Fish and Wildlife Service because that agency does have authority to initiate consultation under the Endangered Species Act.  Both it and the Forest Service have been sued for failing to consult on more than 30 grazing allotments on the Apache-Sitgreaves and Gila National Forests within the upper Gila River watershed.  Our previous discussion is here.

(Court decision.)  On November 17, the Montana Supreme Court upheld a lower court decision and rejected a key pollution permit for the proposed Montanore silver-copper mine in the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness in the Kootenai National Forest.  Previous litigation has included the Forest Service, and was discussed here.

(Update.)  The multistate coalition that is challenging the Trump Administration’s changes to the CEQ NEPA regulations has added a claim that the government violated the Endangered Species Act by failing to consult with the federal wildlife agencies when it issued the regulations.  We discussed the proposed rule here.

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