Nothing from the Forest Service for September, but here’s what I’ve seen. (Links are to articles, news releases or court opinions.)
(Court decision in WildEarth Guardians v. U. S. Forest Service.) On September 10, the federal court for the Eastern District of Washington denied a challenge to the Colville National Forest revised forest plan’s direction related to livestock grazing and gray wolves because the plaintiffs could not show they were injured without a site-specific grazing decision based on the revised plan, and because the state “is the lead agency primarily responsible for wolf management operations.” The court also upheld ESA consultation compliance for whitebark pine, Canada lynx and grizzly bears.
(Court decision.) On September 21, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of a case filed against the Bitterroot National Forest by two landowners contesting the scope of a Forest Service road easement across their land because they failed to meet the 12-year statute of limitations under the Quiet Title Act for making their claims.
(Court decision.) On September 21, the federal district court of Wyoming determined that the Bridger-Teton National Forest had improperly authorized the State of Wyoming to feed elk on two winter feedgrounds because they did not appropriately analyze the harmful impacts of concentrated feeding on wildlife, including the increased risk of transmission of lethal chronic wasting disease.
(New lawsuit.) On September 21, the Alliance for the Wild Rockies filed a lawsuit in the Montana federal district court against the Ripley logging project on the Kootenai National Forest near the Cabinet-Yaak grizzly bear recovery zone.
(Court decision in Yaak Valley Forest Council v. Vilsack.) On September 28, the federal district court for Montana ordered the Kootenai National Forest to comply with the requirements of the National Trials System Act after nearly a decade of delay by preparing a comprehensive plan for the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail by December 31, 2023. The Forest could not rely on its forest plan to meet this requirement.
(New lawsuit: Center for Biological Diversity v. U. S. Bureau of Land Management.) On September 16, five environmental groups sued the Interior Department, Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding the 2019 West Mojave Route Network Project and plan amendments for violating NEPA, FLPMA, and ESA when authorizing off-road vehicle use and cattle grazing in the California Desert Conservation Area. (The news release includes a link to the complaint.)
FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE
(Notice of intent to sue.) On September 8, three environmental groups filed a notice of intent to sue over a delayed response to their 2020 petition seeking to list the Alexander Archipelago wolves under the Endangered Species Act. Alleged threats to the wolves include “the intensive clear-cut logging of old-growth forests on the Tongass National Forest” and associated road construction, and loss of regulatory “protections from the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule on the Tongass National Forest.” (A link to the notice is included in this article.)
(Court decision in WildEarth Guardians v. Haaland.) On September 20, the district court for the Central District of California invalidated the decision by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service to not list the Joshua tree as threatened or endangered. The court held that the agency’s determination that climate change doesn’t threaten the trees to such an extent to warrant protection was arbitrary and capricious. (The court’s opinion is here.)