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Sawtooth Mountain Ranch LLC v. United States

ELR Citation: 50 ELR 20160
Nos. 1:19-cv-0118-CWD, (D. Idaho, 06/30/2020) (Dale, J.)

A district court denied a motion to preliminarily enjoin the Forest Service from constructing a recreation trail across private property located in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. The property owners argued that construction of the trail required activities directly adjacent to designated critical habitat for ESA-listed aquatic species, and thus that the Service's "no effect" determination was flawed. The court found that the Service explained in its biological assessment that construction occurring closest to critical habitat of listed species would be minimal because the trail would utilize existing roads and bridges and sediment control practices would be followed, and thus that the owners had not raised serious questions on the merits of their ESA claim. The owners also argued that the Service never obtained verification under Nationwide Permit 42, and thus were in violation of the CWA because they were dredging and filling wetlands without a §404 permit. The court found that the owners had not sufficiently alleged a violation of a particular effluent standard or limitation, and thus that they were unlikely to prevail on their CWA claim. It therefore denied the motion to halt construction of the trail.