Description: Challenge to environmental review of Houston South Vegetation Management and Restoration Project in the Hoosier National Forest; review was conducted on remand from earlier decision of the court.
Monroe County Board of Commissioners v. U.S. Forest Service
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 03/29/2023 Order Download Motion for preliminary injunction granted. Indiana Federal Court Barred Forest Service from Conducting Burn in Hoosier National Forest. The federal district court for the Southern District of Indiana granted a motion for a preliminary injunction barring the U.S. Forest Service from implementing the Houston South Vegetation Management and Restoration Project burn in the Hoosier National Forest. The court previously found that the Forest Service violated NEPA by failing to consider the project’s impacts on a lake and remanded for additional analysis. This new lawsuit asserted that the Forest Service violated NEPA by failing to prepare an environmental assessment (EA) or EIS on remand and instead relying on a “supplemental information report” (SIR) to explain why impacts on the lake would not be significant. The new complaint alleged, among other things, that the Forest Service failed to “analyze the fact that the Project itself may contribute to climate change through the emissions associated with logging older trees and repeatedly burning thousands of acres of forest land, which emits greenhouse gases during burns and reduces the long-term ability of trees in the burn areas to store excess carbon once they are burned.” In the order granting the preliminary injunction, the court found that the plaintiffs made a strong showing that the Forest Service acted arbitrarily and capriciously by preparing an SIR instead of an EA or EIS. The court also found that irreparable harm was likely to occur, given the risks posed to the environment and human health and safety, and that the public interest favored an injunction. 01/25/2023 Complaint Download Complaint filed.