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Wildearth Guardians v. Provencio

ELR Citation: 49 ELR 20039
Nos. 17-17373, (9th Cir., 03/13/2019)

The Ninth Circuit affirmed a summary judgment for the U.S. Forest Service in a challenge to the agency's authorization of travel management plans that permitted motorized game retrieval within a mile of every open road in three districts of the Kaibab National Forest. Environmental groups argued the agency violated USDA's Travel Management Rule by authorizing plans that did not sufficiently limit motorized game retrieval in the districts. The appellate court disagreed, concluding that the plans' limitations as to timing, qualified species, and number of vehicles was both a reasonable interpretation of the rule and an indication that the Forest Service both considered and applied the minimization criteria required by the rule. The groups also argued that the agency violated NEPA by failing to prepare an EIS for each plan. But the court concluded that the environmental impacts discussed in each district's EA did not raise substantial concerns that necessitated preparation of an EIS. It therefore affirmed the district court's summary judgment.