Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sierra Club v. Abigail Kimbell (U.S. Forest Service)

Oct 18: In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit, Case No: 09-1639, appealed from U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota - Minneapolis. 
    In July 2004, the United States Forest Service issued a Land and Resource Management Plan for the Superior National Forest (the forest plan). Sierra Club, Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, and Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness (collectively, Sierra Club) sought judicial review of the forest plan in the district court. As relevant to the appeal, Sierra Club argued that the Forest Service's assessment of the forest plan's environmental impacts violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). In particular, Sierra Club claimed that the Forest Service had failed to consider the plan's effects on the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). The district court determined that the Forest Service had considered adequately the impacts on the nearby BWCAW wilderness area in accordance with NEPA, and therefore granted the Agency's motion for summary judgment. The Appeals Court affirmed the district court decision.
    In final summary, the Appeals Court said, ". . .the agency's clear intention to act with neutrality towards the BWCAW, the evaluation of specific impacts to the wilderness area (including certain 'edge effects'), and the inclusion of the BWCAW within broader environmental analyses persuade us that the Forest Service took the 'hard look' required of it under NEPA. We thus conclude that the Forest Service did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in its development of the FEIS [final environmental impact statement]."
    Access the complete opinion (click here).