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Idaho Conservation League v. U.S. Forest Service

ELR Citation: 49 ELR 20107
Nos. 1:18-CV-044-BLW, (D. Idaho, 06/17/2019) (Winmill, J.)

A district court ordered the U.S. Forest Service to engage in formal consultation with other federal agencies to protect listed fish species being harmed by water diversions from the Salmon River in Idaho's Sawtooth National Recreation Area. An environmental group argued that the Service violated the ESA by failing to consult with FWS and NMFS about the water diversions, and sought to compel the Service to consult. The Service asserted that it was not obligated to consult because it had not taken any action to resolve the applications for the diversions for over two decades. But the court found the Service had proposed to take an action regarding the applications—issuing interim special use permits—that it determined may affect a listed species, and thus had a mandatory duty to consult under §7 of the ESA. It therefore ordered the Service to engage in formal consultation with the appropriate agency.