NFS Litigation Weekly October 29, 2021

Actually weekly again.  The Forest Service summary is here:  NFS Litigation Weekly October 29 2021 Email

Shorter summaries below include a link to court documents.


Florida Defenders of the Environment v. U.S. Forest Service (11th Cir.) – On October 25, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision favorable to the Forest Service regarding the Kirkpatrick Dam, Rodman Reservoir, and Eureka Lock and Dam located, in part, on the Ocala National Forest, and the associated 1994 special use permit (SUP) that expired in 2002, concluding that enforcement action or inaction by the Forest Service, and the Forest Service’s decision on the related petition for Rulemaking are at the Agency’s discretion, and not subject to judicial review.  (The district court decision was addressed hereThis article provides more background.)


Sierra Snowmobile Foundation v. U.S. Forest Service (E.D. Cal.) — On October 13, the plaintiff organizations and individuals filed a complaint regarding the over-snow vehicle (OSV) use designation on the Stanislaus National Forest, which would eliminate historic OSV-use areas.

Friends of the Inyo v. U.S. Forest Service (E.D. Cal.) On October 21, Friends of the Inyo, Western Watersheds Project, Center for Biological Diversity, and Sierra Club filed a complaint regarding the the Kore Mining project in Inyo National Forest’s Long Valley area, which was based on a categorical exclusion for one year or less of mineral exploration and a separate CE for reclamation, and may affect the Bi-State sage grouse and Owens tui chub.



  • Fish and Wildlife Service cases

Northern spotted owl:  American Forest Resource Council v. Williams (D. D.C.) – On October 13, plaintiffs, a trade association and several local governmental entities located in the Pacific Northwest, were denied a preliminary injunction by the district court against two regulations delaying the elimination of northern spotted owl critical habitat because they failed to show any concrete and imminent injury that an injunction would remedy.

Mexican wolf:  Center for Biological Diversity v. Haaland (D. Ariz.) – On October 14, the district court remanded the 2017 Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan to the Fish and Wildlife Service because it failed to include “objective, measurable criteria to assess the threat of human-caused mortality; the threat from inadequate regulatory mechanisms; genetic threats; and threats to habitat.”

  • Updates to Trump Administration rulemaking litigation

NEPA:  On October 7, the Council on Environmental Quality published the first of two proposed rules to “generally restore” NEPA regulations that were in place prior to the 2020 updates.  (There is some discussion of the litigation here.)

ESA:  On October 27, 2021, the Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service published two proposals in the Federal Register to rescind critical habitat regulations promulgated by the Trump Administration that defined the term “habitat” and promoted consideration of economic tradeoffs of designation.  (This earlier note lists some of the litigation, and it was also discussed here.)

On October 21, fishing and conservation groups joined with the state of Oregon, the Nez Perce Tribe and the Biden administration to seek a pause in litigation challenging the latest federal plan for hydropower operations on the Snake and Columbia rivers in an effort to save endangered salmon runs.  (A related discussion is here.)

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