NFS Litigation Weekly November 19, 2021

The full Forest Service summaries are here:  NFS Litigation Weekly November 19 2021 EMAIL

The abbreviated summaries below include links to court documents.


Defenders of Wildlife v. U.S. Forest Service (D. Colorado) — On November 8, the plaintiff filed a complaint against the revised Rio Grande Forest Plan and revised biological opinion concerning effects on Canada lynx.   (The Forest Service summary incorrectly states that critical habitat is also involved, but there is no lynx critical habitat designated in Colorado.)

San Luis Valley Ecosystem Counsel v. Dallas (D. Colorado) – On November 8, the San Luis Valley Ecosystem Counsel, San Juan Citizens Alliance, the Wilderness Society and WildEarth Guardians, filed a complaint against the revised Rio Grande Forest Plan. The plaintiffs claim the plan violated: (1) NFMA by not contributing to the recovery of the Umcompahgre Fritillary Butterfly or the Canada lynx, and by not providing for sustainable winter recreation opportunities; (2) the Travel Management Rule by including language that allows unregulated over-snow vehicle use on the Forest; and (3) NEPA, including management of two special interest areas.

We’ve recently discussed lynx and these lawsuits here.


Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center v. U.S. Bureau of Land Management (D. Oregon) — On November 11, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, Cascadia Wildlands, Oregon Wild, and  Soda Mountain Wilderness Council filed a complaint against the BLM regarding the Lost Antelope Vegetation Management Project in Jackson County, Oregon (Ashland Field Office of the Medford District).  It involves logging in late successional reserves and consistency with the Northwest Forest Plan, effects on spotted owls, and analysis of fuels, fire, hazard, and fire risk.

Alliance for Wild Rockies v. Cooley (D. Mont.) — On November 5, the Alliance for Wild Rockies and Native Ecosystems Council filed a complaint against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding reintroduction of grizzly bears into the Bitterroot Ecosystem and failing to take any action since 2001.


For those who remember the “My Ding-a-Ling” song …

A lawsuit from the Center for Biodiversity resulted in the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposing to list the alligator snapping turtle as an endangered species. The turtle has been found in parts of at least 14 states in the midwest and southeast.  From the proposed rule:

Several National Forest lands are within the range of the alligator snapping turtle. Forestry activities on National Forests within the range of the alligator snapping turtle, including timber harvest and activities that may increase sedimentation or erosion when not following best management practices, could have adverse impacts on the species.

3 thoughts on “NFS Litigation Weekly November 19, 2021”

  1. Jon, these cases 1 and 2 seem to be a good argument for why forests may not want to do plan revisions. The “reopening Pandora’s box” argument.

    Forest to people urging revision… “we’ve been getting along with this for 30 years”
    People “you really need to update it”
    We’ll spend years rehashing the same old debates (timber, O&G, “bad” recreation) with new information and then get litigated which is likely to drag on for years. It becomes a process that’s in the hands of DOJ despite all the time and effort associated with collaboration over the years.

    If you look at the current situation as a peace settlement with skirmishes around projects, a plan revision can be like starting the war again with the field where the other side has an advantage. the 2012 Rule and the EIS gives folks (and to my mind, were designed to give them) a whole armory full of ammunition for the same old battles.

    At least that looks like what’s going on to me..

    • I think it would have been kind of stupid for Congress to say to the Forest Service (especially as part of reigning in their authority in NFMA), “you don’t have to talk to the public owners again until you want to (if ever).” There’s no requirement that they necessarily change anything when they revise a plan, and by weakening protections for lynx they brought that problem on themselves. With the butterfly, they probably could have been sued earlier on the old plan, but maybe the new Planning Rule language requiring the plan to “contribute to recovery” did highlight the issue.


Leave a Comment