Jump to Navigation
Jump to Content

American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign v. USDA

ELR Citation: 47 ELR 20130
Nos. 15-5332, (D.C. Cir., 09/29/2017)

The D.C. Circuit held that the USDA's decision to alter territorial lines of the Devil's Garden Wild Horse Territory section of the Modoc National Forest was in violation of NEPA. Since 1975, the United States Forest Service has protected and managed wild horses in the Devil’s Garden section in Northern California as two separate tracts of land of roughly 236,000 acres. In the 1980s, the Forest Service map added an approximately 23,000 acre tract known as the Middle Section and linked the two territories into a larger and unified wild horse territory of approximately 258,000 acres. In 2013, it declared the expansion reflected in the 1980s map to be an administrative error, and without further analysis redrew the wild horse territory’s lines to exclude the Middle Section and to revert to two disjoined tracts of land. Conservationists sued the Service, alleging violations of NEPA and the APA. The court agreed, finding that the agency failed to acknowledge and adequately explain its change in policy, and failed to consider adequately whether an EIS was required under NEPA. The removal of the territory was vacated and the case was remanded for further proceedings.