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Ecology Center, Inc. v. Austin

430 F.3d 1057 (2005)

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Ecology Center, Inc. v. Austin

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

430 F.3d 1057 (2005)

Facts

After wildfire burned a large portion of the Lolo National Forest, the United States Forest Service (defendant) developed a project aimed at rehabilitating the old-growth forest. The Forest Service prepared an environmental-impact statement (EIS) setting out four alternatives and ultimately selected a project that included commercial thinning and prescribed burning in old-growth stands. Ecology Center, Inc. (plaintiff) challenged the logging in old-growth forest in federal district court. Ecology Center claimed that the planned interventions violated the National Forest Management Act (NFMA) because they were experimental and had uncertain effects on old-growth-dependent species. The Forest Service admitted that it had only limited evidence the planned treatment was not harmful and that it had not directly monitored the treatment’s effects. But the Forest Service argued that it could reasonably assume, based on the short-term effects of the treatment, that the treatment would not harm dependent species in the long-term. The Forest Service argued that this methodology was entitled to deference. The district court granted summary judgment for the Forest Service, and Ecology Center appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Fletcher, J.)

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