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Idaho Conservation League v. Thomas

ELR Citation: 26 ELR 21650
Nos. 95-36293, 91 F.3d 1345/(9th Cir., 08/06/1996) aff'd

The court upholds a U.S. Forest Service salvage timber sale in the South Fork Salmon River drainage of the Boise and Payette National Forests. The Forest Service proposed the sale under §2001 of the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief and Rescissions Act after a severe wildfire. The court first holds that the Forest Service's decision to proceed with the sale was not arbitrary and capricious under §2001(f)(4) of the Act. The court agrees with the district court's findings that: the Forest Service was entitled to rely on the opinions and studies of its own experts regarding the sale's effects on the salmon and its habitat regardless of other agencies' opposing views; the wildfires were a change in circumstances that warranted the Forest Service's decision to alter its forest management plan; and the Forest Service will be able to finance the ecosystem restoration and sediment reduction projects to which it has committed by using the revenues from the sale and other financing identified in the record of decision for the sale. The court also holds that the Act does not require the Secretary of Agriculture to personally authorize salvage timber sales. Finally, the court holds that the district court did not abuse its discretion in excluding from evidence 11 exhibits and an expert's declaration that were not before the Forest Service at the time it made its decision.

[The district court's opinion is published at 26 ELR 21093.]

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Kristen L. Boyles
Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund
1625 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Ste. 702, Washington DC 20036
(202) 667-4500

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

Before: LAY,* FERGUSON, and LEAVY, Circuit Judges.