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Nez Perce Tribe v. United States Forest Service

ELR Citation: 43 ELR 20234
Nos. 3:13-CV-348-BLW, (D. Idaho, 09/12/2013) (Winmill, J.)

A district court issued an injunction ordering the U.S. Forest Service to prohibit industrial equipment—known as "mega-loads"—headed for the Alberta Sands from being transported along a highway that runs through the Nez Perce Reservation and the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest until certain conditions have been met. The Forest Service recognized that the mega-loads were so large and so slow that they might affect the values the agency is charged to protect. It nevertheless chose not to close the highway until it completes its review of the impacts and its consultation with the tribe. The tribe then sought an injunction, which the court granted. The Forest Service's duties to review the impacts and to consult with the tribe have been triggered, and it has the authority to issue a road closure. Thus, the tribe is likely to succeed on the merits. The tribe is also likely to suffer irreparable harm if no injunction is issued. The tribe is not seeking damages; it is seeking to preserve its treaty rights along with cultural and intrinsic values that have no price tag.