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Coalition for Sustainable Resources v. U.S. Forest Serv.

ELR Citation: 31 ELR 20864
Nos. No. 99-8060, 259 F.3d 1244/(10th Cir., 08/07/2001)

The court dismisses on ripeness grounds a conservation group's claim that the U.S. Forest Service violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by failing to carry out certain conservation programs in its management of the Medicine Bow National Forest in Wyoming. Specifically, the group argued that by allowing forest density to increase, the Forest Service was contributing to the decline of river species. The court first holds, however, that the issues are not purely legal. For example, even were it to decide that the ESA imposes substantive requirements on the Forest Service, the court would have to determine whether increased timber harvesting would promote the conservation of river species. The court next holds that the challenged agency action is not final. The Forest Service has not yet rejected the group's proposed management techniques and it has not unreasonably delayed a decision on whether to implement the techniques. The court additionally holds that the species are not in immediate jeopardy from the Forest Service's inaction, and resolving the issues at this stage would not promote efficiency. Thus, because the case is not ripe, the court lacks jurisdiction and the case is dismissed.

Counsel for Plaintiff
S. Amanda Koehler
Mountain States Legal Foundation
707 17th St., Denver CO 80202
(303) 292-2021

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

Ebel, J. Before Tacha and Seymour, JJ.