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Alliance for the Wild Rockies v. Brazell

ELR Citation: 43 ELR 20264
Nos. 3:12-cv-00466, (D. Idaho, 11/27/2013) (Williams, J.)

A district court held that the U.S. Forest Service did not act arbitrarily or capriciously when it approved a project intended to improve conditions in the Little Slate Creek watershed in the Nez Perce National Forest. The project would seek to improve the watershed through aquatic habitat restoration, timber harvest, fuel treatments, and changes to the roads and trails in the area. Under the project, the Forest Service would conduct timber harvest and fuel reduction treatment on up to 2,598 of the 2.2 million acres of the Forest to decrease the risk of a disastrous fire in the future. An environmental group filed suit under the APA and the ESA, arguing that the Forest Service failed to comply with NEPA's mandate to consider and disclose environmental impacts, the National Forest Management Act's mandate to protect biodiversity, and the ESA's mandate to participate in consultation, mitigate harm, and prevent irreparable injury to the environment. But the court ruled in favor of the government on the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment. The groups failed to show that the Forest Service relied on factors Congress did not intend it to consider, failed to consider an important aspect of any issue, or offered an explanation counter to the evidence before them or was otherwise implausible; rather, the Forest Service's conclusions were well supported and reasonable.