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Jayne v. Rey

ELR Citation: 41 ELR 20076
Nos. No. 4:CV 09-015-BLW, (D. Idaho, 01/29/2011)

A district court upheld the FWS' biological opinion and the U.S. Forest Service's EIS and record of decision for the Idaho Roadless Rule. The court therefore denied environmental groups' request to enjoin the rule and replace it with the nationwide roadless rule that was enacted in 2001. The Idaho roadless rule creates different categories of lands within Idaho's 9.3 million acres of inventoried roadless areas based on the specific attributes of those lands. Three categories provide more protection than the nationwide rule, whereas two categories allow more roads and logging than contemplated by the nationwide rule. The FWS' biological opinion discussed the effect of the rule on the grizzly bear and the caribou, both listed under the ESA, concluding that the adverse effects of more permissive rules for inventoried roadless areas could be serious for the grizzly bear and significant for the caribou. Nevertheless, the FWS discounted the potential for adverse effects in large part due to the Forest Service's commitments that road building in those areas was not reasonably certain to occur. Because there is no evidence casting doubt on these commitments, the FWS did not act arbitrarily in relying on those commitments. Nor did the Forest Service rely on an inaccurate assumption in estimating the impact of the Idaho roadless rule on logging and road building. The record shows that the Forest Service's projection of road building was based not only on levels existing under the nationwide 2001 roadless rule but also on the realities of budgets and the balancing of priorities. Although the Idaho roadless rule allows more roads, no evidence was offered to challenge the Forest Service's assumption that no roads will be constructed due to budgetary constraints. In addition, the Forest Service did not violate NEPA by failing to conduct a site-specific analysis of potential future phosphate mining operations in this area. A site-specific NEPA analysis for any future projects will be done at the time such a proposal is made.