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Friends of the Clearwater v. Higgins

ELR Citation: 50 ELR 20171
Nos. 2:20-cv-00243-BLW, (D. Idaho, 07/13/2020) (Winmill, J.)

A district court denied environmental groups' motion to preliminarily enjoin a commercial logging and road construction project in the Idaho Panhandle National Forests. The groups argued that the Forest Service violated the ESA by failing to request a species list from FWS and failing to prepare a biological assessment (BA) that included grizzly bears and Canada lynx, violated NEPA by failing to take a hard look at the cumulative effects of the project on the elk population and failing to analyze the efficacy of the proposed mitigation measure, violated the National Forest Management Act (NFMA) by failing to comply with the forest plan, and violated the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (WSRA) by failing to take a hard look at potential impacts to the St. Joe Wild and Scenic River Corridor. The court found that the Service failed to prepare a BA for either species as required by the ESA, and that the groups showed a likelihood of success on the merits of that claim, but that they failed to raise serious questions regarding the Service's EA under NEPA. If further found that while the EA could have been more explicit that the project area fell within the St. Joe Wild and Scenic River Corridor, the groups had not raised serious questions on the Service's compliance with the WSRA. While the groups showed a likelihood of success on the merits of their ESA claim, the court found that their generalized allegations of harm did not demonstrate likely irreparable injury and therefore denied their motion for preliminary injunction.