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Friends of Rapid River v. Probert

ELR Citation: 50 ELR 20120
Nos. 19-36063, (9th Cir., 05/20/2020)

In an unpublished opinion, the Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and dismissed in part a challenge to the Forest Service's decision to authorize logging in Idaho's Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests. Environmental groups argued the decision violated the National Forest Management Act (NFMA) and the Healthy Forest Restoration Act (HFRA) by failing to comply with the governing forest plan. The court found that neither the Service's reliance on legacy stand exams and photographs in lieu of site visits to verify old grown, nor its shifting of the location of an area designed to be managed for old-growth habitat and authorization of logging in some parts of the forest within the former boundaries violated the forest plan, and thus did not violate the NFMA or the HFRA. The groups also argued the decision violated the HFRA by including authorization for expansion of a gravel pit to supply road aggregate for roadwork related to the logging, but the Service later withdrew its authorization of the expansion. The court therefore affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the Forest Service with respect to the groups' forest plan challenge, and dismissed as moot the group's challenge to the pit authorization.