Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Great Old Broads For Wilderness v. Kimbell

Mar 4: In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, Case No. 11-16183. Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Nevada. The panel reversed in part and affirmed in part the district court's judgment in favor of the United States Forest Service in an action challenging the Forest Service's approval of the restoration of a flood-damaged road in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest in Nevada.
    The Appeals court explains that this case arises out of the long and contentious process to repair a flood-damaged road in a sensitive area of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest in Elko County, Nevada. They said, "A related dispute reached us twice before, when we ordered that Appellants Great Old Broads and the Wilderness Society (collectively, Great Old Broads) be allowed to intervene in court-directed settlement talks to determine how best to repair or replace the road, rejecting timeliness and standing challenges. . . Great Old Broads now appeals the district court's grant of summary judgment to the United States Forest Service (Forest Service) on Great Old Broads's claims related to the Forest Service's record of decision (ROD) determining the method for restoring the South Canyon Road as a part of the Jarbidge Canyon Project (the Project)."
    "The  Project was an effort to reestablish the South Canyon Road after flood waters damaged the road in 1995, eliminating vehicle access to the Snowslide Gulch Wilderness Portal in the Jarbidge Wilderness. Great Old Broads sought review in federal court, contending that the Forest Service's approval of the Project violated: (1) the National Forest Management Act (NFMA). because the Project offended the Fisheries and Wildlife Restoration standard FW-2 of the Inland Native Fish Strategy (INFISH), which is incorporated into the Humboldt National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan (Humboldt Plan); (2) Executive Order 11988, (EO 11988); and (3) the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA).
    The district court gave summary judgment to the Forest Service, holding that Great Old Broads did not exhaust its administrative remedies and, alternatively, that Great Old Broads's claims failed on the merits. The Appeals Court ruled, "We reverse the district court's conclusion on exhaustion and affirm its alternate decision on the merits." And, in conclusion, "We hold that Great Old Broads exhausted its claims before the Forest Service but that the ROD conforms to the NFMA, EO 11988, and NEPA. We reverse the district court on its analysis of exhaustion, but we affirm the district court on its alternate decision on the merits as to each of the claims presented."
    Access the complete opinion (click here). [#Land, #CA9]
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