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Resources Ltd. v. Robertson

ELR Citation: 22 ELR 20345
Nos. No. CV 89-41-H, 789 F. Supp. 1529/(D. Mont., 11/06/1991)

The court holds that environmental groups lack standing to challenge the land and resource management plan (LRMP) and environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Flathead National Forest and that the case is not ripe. The court first holds that the environmental groups lack standing because the injury is too remote where the LRMP only allows for the possibility of development in the future. The court holds that the case is not ripe because the LRMP and the EIS do not present an actual or immediately threatening effect. In dicta, the court states that it would uphold the plan and the EIS on the merits. The court first finds that the Forest Service complied with the Endangered Species Act by using the best scientific and commercial data available to determine that the LRMP is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of an endangered species when it relied on the Fish and Wildlife Service's biological opinion. The court next finds that the Forest Service gave adequate consideration under the National Environmental Policy Act to the water and fisheries resources by requiring that each action must meet Montana's water quality standards and that best management practices be used to minimize erosion and sedimentation, including sedimentation modelling along important bull trout streams. The court finds that the Forest Service is not required by the National Forest Management Act (NFMA) to determine the optimum harvesting method until it authorizes a sale, not at the LRMP stage. The court finds that the LRMP provides the public with sufficient notice and information to determine where timber sales may be conducted, as required by the NFMA. The court finds that the Forest Service considered an adequate range of alternatives in the EIS and considered the cost-efficient alternatives. The Forest Service's decision not to consider an uneven-aged management alternative was reasonable. The economic assumptions underlying the chosen alternatives were reasonable. The court finds that the EIS adequately discussed the cumulative effects of the LRMP on grizzly bears and their habitat. The court finds that consideration of road density on the grizzly bear is premature because the LRMP does not make an irretrievable commitment to construct the roads and that the Forest Service considered the general impacts associated with road construction.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Douglas Honnald
Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund
1631 Glen Arm Pl., Ste. 300, Denver CO 80202
(303) 623-9466

Counsel for Defendants
Peter Van Tuyn
U.S. Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 514-2000