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Oregon Natural Resources Council v. Mohla

Citation: 19 ELR 21177
No. No. 88-1377-MA, (D. Or., 05/25/1989)

The court holds that a 1988 congressional continuing budget resolution bars an action alleging that a Forest Service timber sale violates the National Environmental Policy Act because the Service failed to consider significant new information regarding old-growth forest ecosystems. Section 314 of the 1988 continuing budget resolution prohibits judicial challenges to existing forest management plans on the sole basis that the plan is outdated, but allows challenges to particular activities carried out under existing plans. The court holds that plaintiff's challenge is to the management plan and thus is precluded. Although plaintiff challenges a single timber sale, the challenge is based solely on new information that makes the current underlying plan outdated, rather than on new information that is site-specific. Plaintiff's new information concerns the nature of old-growth forest ecosystems, an issue that was central to the original timber plan and the subsequent environmental assessment for this timber sale. Plaintiff's own expert stated that the new information on old growth is essential to choosing among alternative land uses and thus is key to larger management decisions rather than site-specific uses. The judicial review prohibition in the continuing budget resolution would be meaningless if plaintiff was allowed to challenge individual timber sales on the basis of past management decisions in current timber plans.

[Decisions in related litigation are published at 19 ELR 21159 and 21230.]

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Victor M. Sher, Todd D. True, Corrie J. Yackulic
Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, Inc.
216 First Ave. S., Ste. 330, Seattle WA 98104
(206) 343-7340

Counsel for Defendants
Charles H. Turner, U.S. Attorney; Thomas C. Lee, Ass't U.S. Attorney
312 U.S. Courthouse, 620 SW Main St., Portland OR 97205
(503) 221-2101