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Central S. Dakota Grazing Dist. v. Secretary, Dep't of Agric.

Citation: 32 ELR 20192
No. No. 00-3567, 266 F.3d 889/53 ERC 1080/(8th Cir., 09/24/2001)

The court holds that the U.S. Forest Service did not violate the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or the National Forest Management Act in its adoption of a grazing plan for the Fort Pierre National Grasslands in Nebraska. A grazing district challenged the Forest Service's plan, claiming that the Forest Service failed to consider reasonable alternatives to reducing grazing levels, and that the Forest Service's methodologies for assessing species populations and range conditions were so unreliable that they made the Forest Service's choice of stocking levels arbitrary and capricious. The court first holds, however, that because the grazing district suffered only economic injury and has no interest in protecting wildlife habitat, it lacks standing to pursue its NEPA claim. The court next holds that even if the court were to assume the grazing district's requisite standing, its NEPA claim would still fail. The grazing district did not demonstrate that its preferred stocking level was within the range of alternatives that reasonably needed to be considered, and the Forest Service's adoption of an amended stocking level was not an abandonment of an alternative within an existing standard. The court further holds that the methodology used by the Forest Service to assess habitat suitability, the habitat suitability index, and a one-point-in-time inventory were not arbitrary or capricious.

Counsel for Appellant
Constance E. Brooks
C.E. Brooks & Associates
Denver Center
1776 Lincoln St., Ste. 1010, Denver CO 80203
(303) 863-0836

Counsel for Appellees
Cheryl Dupree
Environment and Natural Resources Division
U.S. Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 514-2000

Beam, J. Before Murphy and Heaney, JJ.