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Center for Biological Diversity v. Bernhardt

ELR Citation: 51 ELR 20004
Nos. CV 19–109–M–DLC, (D. Mont., 12/23/2020) (Christensen, J.)

A district court denied an environmental group's motion for summary judgment in a challenge to FWS' denial of the group's 2014 petition to update the recovery plan for grizzly bears. The group argued that FWS' denial was arbitrary and capricious. The court concluded that while recovery plans were vital tools for conservation, their nonbinding and discretionary nature meant that they did not "prescribe" law or policy and thus did not fit within the APA's definition of a rule subject to judicial review. The group also argued that the Service violated its duties under §4(f) and §7(a)(1) of the ESA by failing to update the plan to address potential recovery areas across the grizzly bear's historical range and by failing to update its plan as the science had changed, but the court again concluded it lacked jurisdiction to hear these claims. It therefore denied the group's motion for summary judgment and granted the Service's cross-motion.