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Southeast Alaska Conservation Council v. United States Forest Service

ELR Citation: 50 ELR 20156
Nos. 1:19-cv-00006-SLG, (D. Alaska, 06/24/2020) (Gleason, J.)

A district court vacated a timber harvesting project in Tongass National Forest after previously ruling that the Forest Service violated NEPA, the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, and the National Forest Management Act when it authorized the project. Both the plaintiff environmental groups and the Service agreed the appropriate remedy was to vacate the portions of the project that authorized vegetation management and road construction, but they disagreed as to whether the EIS should also be vacated as applied to these two activities. The court found that while the timber industry would suffer economic harm as a result of partial vacatur of the EIS, such harm did not outweigh the seriousness of the document's errors—lack of site-specificity and inadequate comparison of alternatives—such that remand without vacatur was appropriate. It therefore vacated the portions of the project that authorized vegetation management and road construction as well as the EIS as applied to those activities.