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Oregon Natural Desert Ass'n v. United States Forest Service

ELR Citation: 50 ELR 20107
Nos. 18-35514, (9th Cir., 05/01/2020)

The Ninth Circuit affirmed summary judgment for the Forest Service in a challenge to its issuance of grazing authorizations on allotments in the Malheur National Forest. Environmental groups argued that the Service violated the National Forest Management Act (NFMA) when it failed to "analyze and show" the grazing authorizations were consistent with two standards under the Forest's land and resource management plan: Standard GM-1, which requires grazing practices to be modified if they prevent attainment of riparian management objectives, and Standard 5, which requires necessary habitat to be provided to maintain or increase populations of management indicator species such as the bull trout. The court found that the NFMA did not require the Service to memorialize each site-specific grazing authorization's consistency with the forest plan. It further held that the Service's ongoing site-specific monitoring, analysis, and enforcement activities aimed at protecting and improving bull trout habitats were reasonable means of ensuring consistency with Standard 5, and deferred to the Service's expertise in determining whether it needed to modify grazing activity to comply with Standard GM-1. It therefore affirmed summary judgment for the Service.