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Utah Native Plant Society v. United States Forest Service

ELR Citation: 49 ELR 20081
Nos. 17-4074, (10th Cir., 05/07/2019)

The Tenth Circuit affirmed a judgment dismissing a challenge to a U.S. Forest Service decision allowing Utah's Division of Wildlife Resources to release mountain goats on state lands adjacent to the Manti-La Sal National Forest. A conservation group argued that the Service—knowing the Division's plan would result in goats migrating into a designated research natural area within the national forest—arbitrarily and capriciously denied the group's demands to prohibit the Division from introducing additional goats onto state lands and to immediately remove goats already in the national forest. But the court found no instance in which the Forest Service had ever expressed an intent to preempt the power of the state of Utah in its sovereign capacity to manage wildlife on its own public lands, regardless of where such wildlife wandered off. Because the Forest Service had no legal authority to prohibit the Division from releasing goats onto state land, even if the purpose of the release was to establish a goat herd in the national forest, the court affirmed the dismissal.