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Environment Org. Sues Forest Service for Violations of the National Environmental Policy Act

Environment Org. Sues Forest Service for Violations of the National Environmental Policy Act

Friday, Cottonwood Environmental Law Center FiledMary Erickson was charged with the Forest Supervisor of Custer Galllatin National Forest and the United States Forest Services District of Montana. She was accused of violating the National Environmental Policy Act.

The complaint states that Cottonwood Environmental Law Center was a conservation group dedicated to protecting people, forests, water, and wildlife in the western United States. The plaintiff claims that its members have artistic, recreational, spiritual and scientific conservation interests in Custer-Gallatin National Forest. The Cottonwood Environmental Law Center asserts that this case challenges Custer Galllatin National Forests inability to protect citizens from climate change.

The complaint alleges that the defendants implemented 2022 Revised Custer Gallatin Forest Plan, and began logging three-year old growth timber sales at three different sites within the forest. Plaintiff claims that the Revised Forest Plan implementation and timber logging violates the NEPA. This is because defendants failed to disclose or analyze contradictory science in its NEPA analysis of the Revised Forest Plan. 

The plaintiff claims that the defendants failed to disclose a 2017 article by the National Academy of Sciences, which states that when thinning is combined and the expected warming, unintended effects may occur, whereby regeneration can be compromised and forested areas become nonforest. According to the complaint Cottonwood gave Mary Erickson a copy of the article on June 9, 2020. This provided the defendants with adequate notice. 

Cottonwood argues this article is in direct contradiction to the Environmental Impact Statement on the 2022 Custer Gallatin Forest Plan. This is because the Environmental Impact Statement’s key assumption states that the forestland won’t be converted to non-forest conditions after harvesting and will continue producing.

The plaintiff claims that the defendants violated NEPA when they failed to examine the impact of the Revised 2022 Custer Gallatin Forest Plan implementation. Cottonwood requests that the court declare the Forest Service has violated the law and partially vacate portions 2022 Revised Forest Plan. It also asks that the court vacate and enjoin three old growth timber sales.

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