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Sierra Club v. Espy

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
38 F.3d 792 (1994)


Facts

The Sierra Club and the Wilderness Society (plaintiffs) sought an injunction in district court to prevent the United States Forest Service (USFS) (defendant) from engaging the practice of even-aged logging in national forests in Texas. Even-aged logging involved clearcutting, or the cutting of all trees within an area, instead of selective cutting. The plaintiffs claimed that even-aged logging violated the National Forest Management Act (NFMA), 16 U.S.C. §§ 1600-14, and the National Environmental Policy Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 4321-47. The plaintiffs also challenged the USFS’s environmental assessments (EAs), which used even-aged management for timber sales. Each EA considered the project alternatives of no action, even-aged management, and uneven-aged or selection management. The EAs also took old-growth ecosystems into consideration. Although even-aged management was the preferred collective alternative for the timber sales, each timber sale varied regarding the extent of its use of even-aged management. The district court granted a preliminary injunction against the USFS, finding that the NFMA required even-aged management to be used only in exceptional circumstances. The district court reasoned that holding otherwise would violate § 1604(g)(3)(F)(v) of the NFMA, which required the USFS to use even-aged management in a manner consistent with timber regeneration and the protection of soil, watershed, fish, wildlife, recreation, and aesthetic resources. The USFS appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Higginbotham, J.)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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