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Kettle Range Conservation Group v. U.S. Forest Serv.

Citation: 28 ELR 21317
No. 96-36100, 147 F.3d 1155/(9th Cir., 07/06/1998)

The court holds that the U.S. Forest Service's consideration of a fire's effects on a proposed timber sale in the Colville National Forest in Washington was not arbitrary and capricious. After a fire burned 10,000 acres, including 133 acres of the proposed timber harvest area, the Forest Service prepared a supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) for the proposed sale. Environmental groups argued that the SEIS failed to analyze how the fire's effect on non-sale areas should affect the desirability of the proposed timber harvest. The court first holds that the Forest Service considered the entire area of the fire as well as the fire's effects on the entire sale area. This is evidenced by the fact that the Forest Service reduced the harvest of green timber, added harvest of burned timber, and added harvest of timber subject to beetle infestation because of the fire. The court further holds that the SEIS analyzed the significance of the frequent fires in the area, and the decision about how to weigh the effects of the fire on the sale implicates substantial agency expertise.

[A decision related to this litigation is published at 28 ELR 20017. Briefs and Pleadings in this litigation are published at ELR BRIEFS & PLEADS. 66538 and 66547.]

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Todd D. True
Earth Justice Legal Defense Fund
705 Second Ave., Ste. 203, Seattle WA 98104
(206) 343-7340

Counsel for Defendant
Lisa Jones
Environment and Natural Resources Division
U.S. Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 514-2000

Before Reavley* and Boochever, JJ.