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Kettle Range Conservation Group v. Bergland

Citation: 10 ELR 20519
No. No. C-79-338, 480 F. Supp. 1199/14 ERC 1033/(E.D. Wash., 11/25/1979)

The court dismisses plaintiffs' challenge to the adequacy of the Forest Service's environmental assessment report (EAR) for the Ryan Timber Sales Area in the Colville National Forest. Emphasizing that the suit was groundless, the judge awards costs to defendants. The court rejects plaintiffs' first allegation that the EAR did not discuss the "no action" alternative since the document did discuss a "no treatment" option. Similarly, the alternative of deleting that portion of the Ryan sale in the Profanity Roadless Area was dealt with in the same section and had been debated at length by officials in the Department of Agriculture. Third, the court rejects plaintiff's claim that the EAR gave inadequate consideration to the long-range, cumulative impact of the sale, finding that there had been a specific determination to the effect that there would be no such impact. Fourth, in response to an allegation that the EAR failed to state explicitly that it had been prepared in compliance with the National Forest Management Act of 1976, the court observes that the regulatory requirement that such a statement be made went into effect over a month after the EAR was published. Finally, plaintiffs argue that as a rapid incursion into a controversial area in the forest, the sale would violate a Department of Agriculture Directive requiring the Forest Service to manage areas designated "nonwilderness" in a manner which would avoid conflict with more sensitive, controversial lands for as long as possible. The court finds that all areas had been evaluated twice for their wilderness potential and that there had been no shortfall in compliance with the Directive. The court concludes that the timber sale in question is not a "major Federal action" necessitating preparation of an environmental impact statement (EIS). The management plan for that region effects no material change in the management policy covered in the EIS prepared for the Kettle Range Planning Unit surrounding the sale. The court holds that plaintiffs had completely failed to produce evidence supporting their charge that the sale should not go forward and that the Forest Service had acted completely reasonably, legally, and properly in reaching its determination concerning the disposition of the controversial area.

The full text of this opinion is available from ELR (7 pp. $1.25, ELR Order No. C-1213).

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Peter C. Wagstaff
P.O. Box 909, Coeur d'Alene ID 83814
(208) 667-0661

John W. Hayden Jr.
746 Peyton Bldg., Spokane WA 99201
(509) 624-8233

Counsel for Defendants
James J. Gillespie, U.S. Attorney
P.O. Box 1494, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 456-3811

Counsel for Defendant-Intervenor Northwest Pine Association
James K. Morgan
747 Peyton Bldg., Spokane WA 99201
(509) 456-8961

George J. Cooper III
Morrison, Dunn, Cohen, Miller & Carney
17th Floor, Standard Plaza, Portland OR 97204
(503) 224-6440

Hauk, J.

[OPINION OMITTED BY PUBLISHER IN ORIGINAL SOURCE]