Earth Island Institute v. USFS

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Environmental Law
  • Date Filed: 09-20-2012
  • Case #: 11-16718
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge N.R. Smith for the Court; Circuit Judges Reinhardt and Clifton
  • Full Text Opinion

The “1982 Rule,” requiring monitoring of species viability, was not incorporated into the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit Forest Plan (“LTBMU”) at the project level; therefore, the Forest Service is not required to conduct a project level analysis of the “quantity and quality of habitat necessary” to support specific species in the LTBMU, as this analysis is habitat monitoring.

The Angora Fire consumed over 3,100 acres of land in the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (“LTBMU”). Defendants, the Forest Service, responded to the destruction and potential hazards caused by this fire with the "Angora Project." Plaintiffs, the Earth Island Institute, claim that the Forest Service failed to comply with the National Forest Management Act (“NFMA”), in developing the Angora Project. Plaintiffs argue that species viability requirements of a superseded rule known as the "1982 Rule,” were incorporated into the LTBMU. The Court held that the 1982 Rule requiring monitoring of species viability was not incorporated into the LTBMU, at the project level. The Court, supporting this holding, stated that the LTBMU did not expressly reference the 1982 Rule, cited a Ninth Circuit case which considered a forest plan with equivalent language that held the 1982 Rule was not incorporated, and found the Forest Service was owed deference in its interpretation of the LTBMU. Plaintiffs secondly argued that the Forest Service was still required to conduct a project level analysis of the “quantity and quality of habitat necessary” to support specific species in the LTBMU. The Court held this “quantity and quality” analysis was a form of monitoring, and therefore not a requirement at the project level in the LTBMU. The Court also found that procedural requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act were met in developing the Angora Project, and held the Forest Service’s findings concerning this project were not, “arbitrary and capricious.” AFFIRMED.

Advanced Search