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Pacific Rivers Counsel v. United States Forest Service

ELR Citation: 42 ELR 20128
Nos. 08-17565, (9th Cir., 06/20/2012)

The Ninth Circuit reversed in part and affirmed in part a lower court decision that U.S. Forest Service complied with NEPA and the APA when it amended the Sierra Nevada forest plan in 2004. In stark contrast to the 2001 EIS, which contained a 64-page detailed analysis of the environmental consequences for fish, the 2004 EIS contains no analysis on fish species even though the new plan authorizes substantially more environment-altering activities than the old plan. In light of the extensive analysis of the environmental consequences on individual fish species in the 2001 EIS, and of the extensive analysis of the environmental consequences on individual species of mammals, birds, and amphibians in the 2004 EIS, the court concluded, contrary to the Forest Service's contention, that it was "reasonably possible" to provide some analysis of the environmental consequences on individual fish species in the 2004 EIS. The failure of the 2004 EIS to provide any such analysis was a failure to comply with the hard look requirement of NEPA. But the court affirmed the lower court's decision that the Service took the requisite hard look at environmental consequences on amphibians. The decision replaces the court's February 3, 2012, decision.