Jump to Navigation
Jump to Content

Oregon Natural Desert Ass'n v. Green

ELR Citation: 27 ELR 20858
Nos. 95-2013-HA, 953 F. Supp. 1133/(D. Or., 01/31/1997)

The court holds that the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM's) management plan for the Donner und Blitzen River violates the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (WSRA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The court first holds that plaintiff environmental groups have standing. BLM's failure to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) resulted in livestock grazing and other activities throughout the river area that allegedly degrade the values for which individual members of the groups use and enjoy the river. The court also holds that the U.S. Department of the Interior's appeal rules are inadequate under the APA to require plaintiffs to exhaust their administrative remedies with the Board of Land Appeals, because the regulations do not render the plan inoperative pending review.

The court next holds that the management plan for the Donner and Blitzen River, which was designated as a "wild" river under the WSRA, violates the Act. The plan fails to strike the appropriate balance between continued grazing and protecting and enhancing the river values, and the record establishes that grazing is degrading several of the river's values. The court then holds that BLM violated NEPA when it failed to prepare an EIS to analyze the impacts of grazing in the river area. The court rejects BLM's assertion that its decision to continue cattle grazing was simply a phase in an essentially continuous activity. The management plan purports to authorize cattle grazing in accordance with the strictures of the WSRA, that involves distinctly different considerations from prior decisions to allow grazing. The court also rejects BLM's assertion that any details of management actions with respect to cattle grazing that are omitted from the Donner und Blitzen River plan's environmental assessment (EA) are covered in EAs for other plans in the area. The court further holds that it is unable to determine, based on the administrative record, whether BLM has taken the hard look that NEPA requires at the environmental consequences of building roads and a parking lot in the area. The court also holds that plaintiffs' claims regarding motorized vehicles in the river area are not barred by res judicata. BLM has failed to meet its burden to establish that plaintiffs in this case were in privity with the plaintiffs in a prior case.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Peter M.K. Frost
National Wildlife Federation
921 SW Morrison, Ste. 512, Portland OR 97205
(503) 222-1429

Counsel for Defendants
Kristine Olson, U.S. Attorney
U.S. Attorney's Office
888 SW 5th Ave., Ste. 1000, Portland OR 97204
(503) 326-2101