Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Major Public Lands Case Filed Challenging Forest Service’s Exclusion of Roadless Protections Near Ski Resorts

Last week, on behalf of the nonprofit conservation organization The Ark Initiative and several individuals, we filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia challenging the Forest Service’s recent attempts to exclude public lands in Colorado from roadless protections that those lands have long been afforded by the agency.  In stark contrast with the Forest Service’s longstanding roadless management regime that implements the agency’s duties under the Wilderness Act and other laws, in the Forest Service’s 2012 Colorado Roadless Rule and subsequent site-specific decisions implementing the regulation the agency has purported to rely on economic, commercial, and social factors for excluding long-recognized roadless areas from the nation’s roadless inventory rather than basing such determinations on the factual condition of the parcel under review (i.e., whether the parcel is unroaded and otherwise consists of specified roadless qualities enumerated in the agency’s land management handbook).  These public lands – which are highly desired by the ski resort industry for future recreational development that is inconsistent with roadless management values and standards – were all protected as part of the Forest Service’s roadless inventory prior to the 2012 rule.  The plaintiffs have requested that the court vacate both the regulation’s arbitrary and capricious exclusion of these public lands from the roadless inventory as well as the site-specific decisions relying on and implementing the rule’s unlawful roadless inventory exclusion.  The complaint can be found here.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Court Allows Wild Horse Advocates to Intervene in Lawsuit to Protect Wild Horses From Livestock Owners Who Want Them Removed from the Range In Nevada

Yesterday, the United States District Court for the District of Nevada granted our motion to intervene, filed on behalf of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), Terri Farley, and Mark Terrell, as defendants in a lawsuit filed by the Nevada Association of Counties (NACO) and the Nevada Farm Bureau Federation (NFBF) against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The lawsuit is a wholesale attack on the way BLM manages wild horses on public lands throughout Nevada, and seeks to have the horses removed from the range because they are competing for water and forage with private livestock that is permitted to graze on the same lands at taxpayer expense. NACO and NFBF also want the court to require BLM to terminate long-term warehousing of wild horses and immediately “dispose” of almost 50,000 wild horses currently in these facilities. Our clients sought intervention to ensure that the interests of wild horses and burros are protected and to prevent BLM from entering into any “sweetheart” deals in an effort to appease the interests of the livestock industry.  The Judge’s Order granted our clients Intervention of Right to protect their important aesthetic, educational, and economic interests.