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Montana Wilderness Ass'n v. Connell

ELR Citation: 43 ELR 20173
Nos. 11-35818, -3582, (9th Cir., 07/31/2013)

The Ninth Circuit held that BLM's resource management plan (RMP) for the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument complied with NEPA and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) but violated the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). The RMP, which authorizes roads, airstrips, and motorboats in the Monument, complies with FLPMA's mandate that wilderness study areas be roadless and be managed in a way so as not to impair their suitability for preservation as wilderness. In addition, BLM took a hard look at the RMP's impacts on the Upper Missouri National Wild and Scenic River, elk, and bighorn sheep under NEPA. But BLM failed to make a reasonable effort to identify historical and cultural resources in the Monument in violation of the NHPA. BLM is required to conduct inventories for roads, ways, and airstrips that have not been surveyed previously or were surveyed decades ago, and it failed to adequately do so here.