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Greater Yellowstone Coalition v. Flowers
United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
359 F.3d 1257 (2004)
Canyon Club, Inc. (Canyon Club) (defendant) applied to the United States Army Corps of Engineers (the corps) (defendant) for a dredge-and-fill permit under § 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA). The permit would authorize Canyon Club to proceed with the construction of an upscale housing development and golf course on land along the Snake River in Teton County, Wyoming, that was in the vicinity of bald eagle nesting territory. Bald eagles were listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The corps required Canyon Club to submit a biological assessment (BA), an environmental assessment (EA), and a § 404(b)(1) analysis. Pioneer Environmental Services, Inc. (Pioneer) prepared all three documents. The BA concluded that the project could affect and was likely to adversely affect bald eagles. The Corps then consulted the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the FWS prepared a biological opinion (BiOp) that concluded the proposed development was not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the bald eagle as a species. The FWS also produced an incidental-take statement that anticipated the loss of three bald eagle nesting territories as a result of the project. In 2002, the corps issued a decision granting Canyon Club’s § 404 permit. The corps agreed with Pioneer’s § 404(b)(1) analysis that the proposed action was the least damaging practicable on-site alternative. The corps analyzed several other alternatives and found that although some may have incrementally reduced impacts around bald eagle nesting areas, the impacts on bald eagles as a whole would not be significant. The Greater Yellowstone Coalition and the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance (the coalition) (plaintiffs) brought suit against the corps officials and Canyon Club, challenging the corps’ issuance of the dredge-and-fill permit. The district court upheld the corps’ issuance of the permit. The coalition appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Anderson, J.)
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