Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Native Ecosystems Council v. Tidwell (Forest Service)

Mar 9: In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, Case No. 06-35890. Plaintiffs-Appellants Native Ecosystems Council, et al (collectively NEC) appeal the district court's summary judgment in favor of Defendants-Appellees Tom Tidwell, the United States Forest Service, et al (collectively Forest Service); Defendants-Intervenors-Appellees Madison County and Beaverhead County; and Intervenors-Appellees Sitz Angus Ranch, et al (collectively Intervenors-Appellees). NEC argues that the district court erred in finding that Forest Service approval of a project to update grazing allotments in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest complies with the Forest Service's obligation to ensure species diversity as required under the National Forest Management Act (NFMA). It also contends that the district court erred in concluding that the Environmental Assessment undertaken by the Forest Service project satisfied the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
    The Appeals Court ruled, "We agree with NEC on both counts. Because the Forest Service's environmental assessment was
based on a nonexistent management indicator species (MIS), its habitat proxy analysis was not reliable. The Forest Service
also failed to take the requisite 'hard look' at the project as required by NEPA. We therefore reverse the district court's summary judgment in favor of the Forest Service, and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion."
    Access the complete opinion (click here).