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Texas v. U.S. Forest Serv.

Citation: 17 ELR 20698
No. No. H-86-4224, 654 F. Supp. 289/(S.D. Tex., 11/26/1986) Denial of TRO

The court holds that Texas is not entitled to a temporary restraining order to halt the Forest Service's site preparation for reforestation in the Sam Houston National Forest, since the state is not likely to succeed on its claim that the Forest Service violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by failing to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the project. The court initially sets out the Fifth Circuit's reasonableness test for review of agency action, as well as the standards for temporary injunctive relief. The court first holds that Texas is not likely to prevail on the merits. The 1978 EIS for the Sam Houston National Forest and subsequent environmental assessments for the Four Notch area of the forest discussed management plans, their impacts and alternatives, and complied with NEPA. The court holds that these planning documents provide substantial evidence for the Forest Service site preparation and reforestation activity. The court next holds that the state's injury absent injunctive relief is not irreparable. Although the Forest Service plan will significantly alter the Four Notch forest area, the state's interests in the forest are limited and may be compensated by redesignation of the remaining areas of the larger Sam Houston National Forest. In contrast, the injury to the United States if injunctive relief is granted is high. There is a significant threat of accidental fire from fallen trees in the area. The public interests identified by the court also do not clearly support injunctive relief.

[The decision on the merits is published at 17 ELR 20701. Related cases appear at 7 ELR 20720, 8 ELR 20445, 16 ELR 20049, and 17 ELR 20402.]

Counsel for Plaintiff
Renea Hicks, Ass't Attorney General
P.O. Box 12458, Capitol Station, Austin TX 78711
(512) 475-2501

Counsel for Defendants
Frank Conforti, Ass't U.S. Attorney
P.O. Box 61129, Houston TX 77208
(713) 229-2600