Jump to Navigation
Jump to Content

Rock Creek Alliance v. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

ELR Citation: 41 ELR 20339
Nos. 10-35596, (9th Cir., 11/16/2011)

The Ninth Circuit held that the FWS' determination that a proposed mining project in northwest Montana would result in "no adverse modification" to critical bull trout habitat and would result in "no jeopardy" to the local grizzly bear population was not arbitrary, capricious, or in violation of the ESA. The FWS properly compared the relative size of the impacted 2.88 stream miles of Rock Creek to the overall size of the Lower Clark Fork Core Area critical habitat—135 stream miles—to determine that the bull trout's critical habitat would not be adversely modified. The FWS also considered the mine's impact on bull trout recovery. In addition, the FWS's methodology for calculating the necessary amount of grizzly bear mitigation habitat was not flawed because it failed to numerically discount the effectiveness of proposed mitigation parcels already impacted by existing development. The FWS expressly acknowledged the limitations created by existing development on proposed mitigation land. In addition, the mitigation plan was so robust that the FWS concluded it would actually improve conditions over the long term and promote the recovery of the local grizzly bear population. The court also rejected claims that the proposed mitigation plan was unreasonably speculative.