Monday, September 24, 2012

Native Ecosystems Council v. Weldon (Forest Service)

Sep 21: In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, Case No. 11-35659. Appealed from the United States District Court for the District of Montana. The Appeals Court explains that this case arises out of Native Ecosystems Council's (Native Ecosystems Council) appeal of the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the United States Forest Service (Forest Service) in an action regarding the Ettien Ridge Fuels Reduction Project (the Project) in the Lewis and Clark National Forest, located in Montana. The Project was designed to reduce the spread and intensity of potential future wildfires in the Judith Basin County Wildland-Urban Interface by removing naturally occurring wildfire fuels. Native Ecosystems Council alleges that the Forest Service violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the National Forest Management Act (NFMA) when it issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) and Decision Notice approving the Project.
    The Appeals Court ruled, "We hold that the Forest Service took the requisite 'hard look' at the environmental impact of the Project on the elk hiding cover, and goshawk populations, in the manner required by NEPA. . . We further hold that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment to the Forest Service on Native Ecosystems Council's NFMA claims, because the Forest Service reasonably considered the 'relevant factors' that could have impacted the elk hiding cover and goshawk populations in its analysis of the Project. Accordingly, we affirm."
    Access the complete opinion (click here). [#Land, #CA9]
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