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Sierra Club v. U.S. Forest Serv.

ELR Citation: 27 ELR 20188
Nos. Nos. 95-35892, -36033, 93 F.3d 610/(9th Cir., 08/20/1996)

The court holds that salvage timber sales that had not yet been advertised were "in preparation" under the Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Assistance and Rescissions Act's (Rescissions Act's) waiver of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements. Environmental groups challenged the U.S. Forest Service's proposed sale of salvage timber in northern spotted owl habitat, a portion of which had not yet been advertised when Congress enacted the Rescissions Act. Section 2001(b) of the Act exempts all sales "in preparation" on the date of enactment from NEPA. The court first holds that the plain language of the statute provides that "in preparation" encompasses all activity up until actual advertisement. Thus, §2001(b) applies to all salvage timber sales that had not been advertised on the date of enactment, including this sale. The court next holds that the sale of the unadvertised timber was not ripe for review under the Rescissions Act, because the Act requires parties to wait until the salvage sale is advertised before challenging it. The court next holds that the group's challenge to the sale of the portion of timber that had already been advertised and offered when the Act was enacted is moot. Section 2001k of the Act mandates the release of the sale irrespective of any NEPA violations.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Marianne Dugan
Western Environmental Law Center
44 W. Broadway, Ste. 200, Eugene OR 97401
(503) 485-2471

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

Before: GOODWIN and BRUNETTI, Circuit Judges, and KING, District Judge.*