Friday, September 21, 2012

Earth Island Institute v. U.S. Forest Service

Sep 20: In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, Case No. 11-16718. Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California. The Appeals Court explains that under the National Forest Management Act (NFMA), an Agency's project is required to comply with 1982 viability requirements only to the extent they have been incorporated in the relevant forest plan. Earth Island Inst. v. Carlton, 626 F.3d 462, 470 (9th Cir. 2010). The Appeals Court said, "Here, we conclude that the Lake Tahoe Forest Plan did not require the Forest Service to demonstrate at the project level that the Angora Fire Restoration Project (Angora Project) would maintain viable population levels of management indicator species, including the black-backed woodpecker. Therefore, the Forest Service's analysis of the Angora Project's impact on the black-backed woodpecker's habitat was not arbitrary and capricious under NFMA."
    Further, the Appeals Court indicated that the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires an Environmental Assessment (EA) to comply with certain procedural requirements to ensure that agencies will make informed decisions about the environmental effects of proposed Federal actions and to make this information available to the public. Ecology Center v. Castaneda, 574 F.3d 652, 656-57 (9th Cir. 2009). They said, "Here, because the Forest Service did not fail to (1) ensure the scientific integrity of the final EA, (2) properly respond to dissenting scientific opinion, (3) properly consider proposed alternatives to the Angora Project Environmental Assessment, and (4) take the requisite 'hard look' at the impacts of the Angora Project, we also conclude that the Forest Service's analysis of the Angora Project's environmental effects was not arbitrary and capricious under NEPA. Accordingly, we affirm the district court."
    Access the complete opinion (click here). [#Land, #CA9]
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