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League of Wilderness Defenders v. United States Forest Service

ELR Citation: 42 ELR 20145
Nos. 3:10-CV-01397, (D. Or., 06/29/2012) (Simon, J.)

A district court held that the U.S. Forest Service violated NEPA, but not the NFMA, in approving the use of herbicides to control invasive plant species in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest comprises 2.3 million acres in the northeast corner of Oregon and the western edge of Idaho—an area larger than the states of Delaware and Rhode Island combined. The Service’s explanation of its modeling data was reasonable, and the data did not contradict the Forest Service’s conclusion that the project will comply with the local forest management plan. In addition, the Service adequately analyzed the project’s compliance with NFMA at an appropriate scale. And although the Service evaluated a reasonable range of alternatives under NEPA, it did not adequately evaluate the cumulative impacts that the project might have when considered in conjunction with other actions. The court, therefore, enjoined the Service from further implementation of the project and remanded the matter to the agency for further analysis of cumulative impacts under NEPA.