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Wilderness Soc'y v. Alcock

ELR Citation: 26 ELR 21401
Nos. 94-9369, 83 F.3d 386/(11th Cir., 05/22/1996) aff'd

The court holds that environmental groups' challenge to the 1986 Final Land and Resource Management Plan (Plan) for the Cherokee National Forest is not ripe until the government proposes a site-specific action. The groups alleged that the Plan violated the National Forest Management Act and the regulations promulgated thereunder at 36 C.F.R. Part 219. The district court had dismissed the case on both standing and ripeness grounds; however, the court holds that the timing of the suit, rather than the propriety of the groups as plaintiffs, causes justiciability problems. The court is persuaded by the government's argument that no site-specific action will be taken pursuant to the Plan without a second stage of decisionmaking. Further, the court holds that until site-specific actions have been proposed, there is no controversy to resolve. The environmental groups can, at the second stage, challenge both the site-specific action as well as the Plan-level decisions underlying the specific action. That some decisions in the Plan make injury to the groups "more likely" does not make the injury imminent enough for judicial decisionmaking.

[The district court's opinion is published at 25 ELR 20323.]

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Deborah M. Wassenaar
Southern Environmental Law Center
201 W. Main St., Ste. 14, Charlottesville VA 22902
(804) 977-4090

Counsel for Defendants
Steven P. Quarles
Crowell & Moring
1001 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington DC 20004
(202) 624-2500

Before TJOFLAT, Chief Judge, CARNES, Circuit Judge, and FAY, Senior Circuit Judge.