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Inland Empire Pub. Lands Council v. Glickman

ELR Citation: 26 ELR 20880
Nos. No. 95-133-M-CCL, 911 F. Supp. 431/(D. Mont., 12/18/1995)

The court upholds a U.S. Forest Service decision to sell salvage timber in the Kootenai National Forest in Montana pursuant to the salvage timber rider to the 1995 Rescissions Act. The Forest Service prepared biological assessments (BAs) for each of the sales, and after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) concurred with the BAs' conclusion that the sales were not likely to adversely affect the grizzly bear, awarded contracts for two of the sales. The court holds that the Forest Service's adoption of its Interim Core Management Strategy to implement the sales and manage grizzly bears was not arbitrary and capricious. The Forest Service considered each of the substantive arguments plaintiffs raised in opposition to the Core Strategy. The court holds that the record supports the Core Strategy's determinations regarding habitat effectiveness and demonstrates that the Forest Service considered plaintiffs' road-density concerns. While plaintiffs may not agree with the Core Strategy, the decision to proceed with it is squarely within the Forest Service's expertise. Further, the court finds substantial and rational support for the plan in the administrative record. The court notes that its finding is consistent with Congress' goal of providing expedited procedures for the salvage of dead or damaged timber so the economic value will not be lost through deterioration caused by protracted delays. The court holds that requiring the Secretary of the Interior to personally authorize each salvage sale would impede the obvious intent that such sales proceed in the most expeditious manner possible. The court also notes that the Secretary has properly delegated authority to an Assistant Secretary who has further delegated authority to the Forest Service Chief. The court next dismisses plaintiffs' claim that the FWS' concurrence was arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act. Allowing plaintiffs to proceed independently of the Rescissions Act is impermissible and would violate the clear and obvious intent of Congress. The court finally strikes some of plaintiffs' declarations and exhibits, because they were not before the agency when the decision was made.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Patti Goldman
Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund
705 Second Ave., Ste. 203, Seattle WA 98104
(206) 343-7340

Counsel for Defendants
Sandra Zellmer
Environment and Natural Resources Division
U.S. Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 514-2000