Description: Lawsuit challenging the U.S. Forest Service's approvals of two logging projects in the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests.
Friends of the Clearwater v. Probert
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 06/24/2022 Memorandum Decision Download Cross motions for summary judgment granted in part and denied in part, NEPA determinations reversed and remanded, and projects enjoined. Citing Inadequate Analysis of Old Growth Forests, Idaho Federal Court Blocked Timber Harvests in National Forest. The federal district court for the District of Idaho enjoined two “forest health projects” that would involve “extensive timber harvest” in the Nez Pearce-Clearwater National Forests. The court found that the U.S. Forest Service violated the National Forest Management Act by failing to establish that the projects were consistent with Nez Pearce Forest Plan criteria defining old growth stands. The court also found that the environmental review for one of the projects did not adequately consider the two projects’ cumulative environmental impact in relation to old growth. The court rejected other arguments, including that the Forest Service failed to adequately address contrary scientific views on the efficacy of forest thinning to reduce wildfire risk and insect outbreaks. The plaintiff’s allegations included that old growth forests “fight climate change by sequestering carbon and are refugia for species facing a changing climate.” 05/06/2022 Status Report Download Joint status report filed regarding Hungry Ridge Project activities. 07/23/2021 Complaint Download First amended complaint filed. 04/28/2021 Complaint Download Complaint filed. Lawsuit Cited Forest Service’s Failure to Contend with Recent Climate Change Studies in Approvals of Logging Projects. A lawsuit filed in the federal district court for the District of Idaho asserted that the U.S. Forest Service’s approvals of two “massive” logging projects in the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the National Forest Management Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act. Under NEPA, the plaintiff alleged that the Forest Service failed to address “mounting scientific evidence” that undermined the agency’s assumptions about logging, forest health, fire, and climate change. According to the complaint, a purpose of the projects was to improve resilience so as to better address climate change, but the plaintiff alleged it had submitted numerous studies that questioned the Forest Service’s rationale for the logging, especially logging in old growth, which the plaintiff alleged was particularly important for resilience. The plaintiff contended that an environmental impact statement should be required to address “[t]he highly controversial, unknown, and/or uncertain direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of approved logging and other activities on wildfire risk, forest health, and climate change.”