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Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center v. Grantham

ELR Citation: 49 ELR 20014
Nos. 2:18-cv-02785-TLN-DMC, (E.D. Cal., 01/25/2019) (Nunley, J.)

A district court granted environmental groups' motion to preliminarily enjoin the U.S. Forest Service from harvesting damaged trees in the Klamath National Forest following a 2017 fire. The groups argued that the harvesting project violated the National Forest Management Act (NFMA) by failing to comply with an objective in the national forest plan that required water quality to be maintained and restored. The court found the EA clearly indicated an increase in sedimentation in at least some watersheds that was well above the threshold for the natural range of variability, and thus raised serious questions as to whether the agency failed to consider short-term impacts as required by the forest plan. The groups also argued that the agency violated the NFMA by permitting large-diameter snag removal without considering how the salvage operations would diminish habitat suitability. The court found the EA did not appear to explain whether current habitat suitability would be affected, other than stating that the viability of the threatened northern spotted owl as a whole would be maintained, and thus raised serious questions as to whether the species' short-term habitat suitability would be impaired. Because the groups raised serious questions regarding their likelihood of success on the merits and of likely irreparable harm, the court preliminarily enjoined the agency from proceeding with its harvesting project.