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Rocky Mountain Peace & Justice Center v. United States Fish and Wildlife Service

ELR Citation: 51 ELR 20135
Nos. 18-cv-01017-PAB, (D. Colo., 07/09/2021) (Brimmer, J.)

A district court affirmed FWS' decision to modify the location of certain planned multi-use trails in Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge. Nonprofit groups argued FWS violated NEPA by failing to prepare a supplemental EIS for the trail modifications and improperly relying on categorical exclusions rather than conducting an EA. The court found that the groups failed to identify any substantial changes relevant to environmental concerns that would require the Service to prepare a supplemental EIS, and failed to identify any potential extraordinary circumstances that would preclude its use of categorical exclusions. The groups also argued FWS violated the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge Act because there was no compatibility determination (CD) permitting use of the refuge for public trails and the modifications were a "significant change" to the public trails previously envisioned. The court found the education CD and wildlife observation CD on which the Service relied authorized public trails in the refuge, and that it was neither arbitrary nor capricious for the Service to rely on them rather than an expired trails CD. It therefore affirmed FWS' decision.