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In re Big Thorne Project

United States District Court, D. Alaska

March 20, 2015

IN RE BIG THORNE PROJECT AND 2008 TONGASS FOREST PLAN

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For Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, Alaska Wilderness League, Sierra Club, National Audubon Society, Natural Resources Defense Council, Plaintiffs (1:14-cv-00013): Eric P. Jorgensen, Holly Anne Harris, Thomas S. Waldo, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Earthjustice (Juneau), Juneau, AK.

For Cascadia Wildlands, Plaintiff (1:14-cv-00013): Christopher G. Winter, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, The Crag Law Center, Portland, OR; Gabriel William Scott, LEAD ATTORNEY, Gabriel W. Scott, Attorney at Law, Cordova, AK; Ralph Owen Bloemers, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Crag Law Center, Portland, OR.

For Greater Southeast Alaska Conservation, Community, Greenpeace, Center for Biological Diversity, The Boat Company, Plaintiffs (1:14-cv-00013): Christopher G. Winter, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, The Crag Law Center, Portland, OR; Ralph Owen Bloemers, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Crag Law Center, Portland, OR.

For United States Forest Service, United States Department of Agriculture, Beth Pendleton, in her officially capacity as United States, Forest Service Region 10 Regional Forester, Forrest Cole, in his official capacity as Forest Supervisor for the Tongass National Forest, Thomas L. Tidwell, in his official capacity as Chief of the United States Forest Service, Defendants (1:14-cv-00013): David B. Glazer, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. Department of Justice, Environment and Natural Resource, San Francisco, CA.

For State of Alaska, Intervenor Defendant (1:14-cv-00013): Thomas E. Lenhart, LEAD ATTORNEY, Alaska Department of Law, Juneau, AK.

For Alaska Forest Association Inc., Intervenor Defendant (1:14-cv-00013): Julie A. Weis, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Haglund Kelley Horngren Jones & Wilder, LLP, Portland, OR; Howard S. Trickey, Holland & Knight LLP (AK), Anchorage, AK.

For City of Craig, Alaska Electric Light and Power, Alaska Marine Lines, Southeast Stevedoring Corporation, Tyler Rental Corporation, Alaska Power & Telephone, Alaska Miners Association, First Things First Foundation, Resource Development Council for Alaska, Inc, Boyer Towing Inc, Samson Tug and Barge, Icy Straits Lumber, Southeast Roadbuilders Inc, First Bank, City of Ketchikan, Ketchikan Gateway Borough, City and Borough of Wrangell, Federal Forest Resource Coalition, Intervenor Hyak Mining Co Inc, Wolf Cutting, Defendants (1:14-cv-00013): James F. Clark, LEAD ATTORNEY, Law Offices of James F. Clark, Juneau, AK; Steven W. Silver, Robertson Monagle and Eastaugh, Reston, VA.

For Viking Lumber Company, Inc., Intervenor Defendant (1:14-cv-00013): Richard W. Goeken, Smith, Curry & Hancock LLP, Washington,, DC.

For Southeast Conference, Intervenor Defendant (1:14-cv-00013): Julie A. Weis, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Haglund Kelley Horngren Jones & Wilder, LLP, Portland, OR; Howard S. Trickey, LEAD ATTORNEY, Holland & Knight LLP (AK), Anchorage, AK.

For Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Alaska Wilderness League, Plaintiffs (1:14cv14): Eric P. Jorgensen, Holly Anne Harris, Thomas S. Waldo, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Earthjustice (Juneau), Juneau, AK USA.

For United States Forest Service, United States Department of Agriculture, Thomas L. Tidwell, in his official capacity as Chief of the United States Forest Service, Beth Pendleton, in her official capacity as United States Forest Service Region 10 Regional Forester, Forrest Cole, in his official capacity as Forest Supervisor of the Tongass National Forest, Defendants (1:14cv14): David B. Glazer, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. Department of Justice, Environment, San Francisco, CA USA.

For State of Alaska (1:14cv14, 1:14cv15), Intervenor Defendant: Thomas E. Lenhart, LEAD ATTORNEY, Alaska Department of Law, Office Of The Attorney General, Juneau, AK USA.

For City of Craig City of Craig, City of Ketchikan, Ketchikan Gateway Borough, City And Borough of Wrangell, Icy Straits Lumber, Alaska Power & Telephone, Alaska Electric Light And Power (Aelp), Alaska Marine Lines, First Things First Foundation, Hyak Mining Co Inc, Wolf Cutting, Resource Development Council For Alaska Inc, Southeast Roadbuilders Inc, Southeast Stevedoring Corp, First Bank, Boyer Towing Inc, Alaska Miners Assoc, Tyler Rental Corporation, Federal Forest Resouce Coalition, Samson Tug And Barge, Intervenor Defendants (1:14cv14): James F. Clark, LEAD ATTORNEY, Law Offices of James F. Clark, Juneau, AK USA; Steven W. Silver, LEAD ATTORNEY, Robertson Monagle and Eastaugh, Reston, VA USA.

For Alaska Forest Association Inc., Southeast Conference, Southeast Conference, Intervenor Defendants (1:14cv14): Howard S. Trickey, LEAD ATTORNEY, Holland & Knight LLP (AK), Anchorage, AK USA; Julie A. Weis, PRO HAC VICE, Haglund Kelley Horngren Jones & Wilder LLP, Portland, OR USA.

For Cascadia Wildlands, Plaintiff (1:14cv15): Gabriel William Scott, LEAD ATTORNEY, Gabriel W. Scott, Attorney at Law, Cordova, AK USA; Ralph Owen Bloemers, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Crag Law Center, Portland, OR, USA; Christopher G. Winter, The Crag Law Center, Portland, OR USA.

For Greater Southeast Alaska Conservation Community, Greenpeace, Center For Biological Diversity, The Boat Company, Plaintiffs (1:14cv15): Christopher G. Winter, LEAD ATTORNEY, The Crag Law Center, Portland, OR USA; Ralph Owen Bloemers, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Crag Law Center, Portland, OR USA.

For Forrest Cole, in his official capacity as Tongass National Forest Supervisor, Beth Pendleton, in her official capacity as Alaska Regional Forester, Thomas L. Tidwell, in his official capacity as Chief of the United States Forest Service, United States Forest Service, an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture, Defendants (1:14cv15): David B. Glazer, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. Department of Justice, Environment and Natural Resource, San Francisco, CA USA.

For City of Craig, City of Ketchikan, Ketchikan Gateway Borough, City And Borough of Wrangell, Alaska Electric Light And Power (Aelp), Alaska Power & Telephone, Alaska Marine Lines, Tyler Rental Corporation, Southeast Stevedoring Corp, Boyer Towing Inc, First Things First Foundation, Samson Tug & Barge, Wolf Cutting, Hyak Mining Co Inc, Resource Development Council For Alaska Inc, Federal Forest Resource Coalition, First Bank, Southeast Roadbuilders Inc, Alaska Miners Assoc, Icy Straits Lumber, Intervenor Defendants (1:14cv15): James F. Clark, LEAD ATTORNEY, Law Offices of James F. Clark, Juneau, AK USA; Steven W. Silver, Robertson Monagle and Eastaugh, Reston, VA USA.

For Alaska Forest Association Inc., Southeast Conference, Intervenor Defendants (1:14cv15): Howard S. Trickey, Holland & Knight LLP (AK), Anchorage, AK USA; Julie A. Weis, Haglund Kelley Horngren Jones & Wilder LLP, Portland, OR USA.

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ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND GRANTING SUMMARY JUDGMENT IN FAVOR OF DEFENDANTS

RALPH R. BEISTLINE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

I. INTRODUCTION

In the consolidated matter before the Court, Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, Alaska Wilderness League, National Audubon Society, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Cascadia Wildlands, Center for Biological Diversity, Greater Southeast Alaska Conservation Community, Greenpeace, and The Boat Company (" Plaintiffs" ) have challenged timber development in the Tongass National Forest that has been considered and approved by the United States Forest Service.

Plaintiffs claim violations of the National Environmental Policy Act (" NEPA" ), the National Forest Management Act (" NFMA" ), and the 2008 Amended Tongass National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan (" 2008 Forest Plan" ). Plaintiffs have also challenged the 2008 Forest Plan as failing to comply with NFMA. Prior to consolidation, Plaintiffs filed motions for summary judgment at Docket 32 (1:14-cv-13), Docket 26 (1:14-cv-14), and Docket 28 (1:14-cv-15). The Defendants United States Forest Service, United States Department of Agriculture, Beth Pendleton, and Forrest Cole, (" USFS" ) responded at Docket 58 (1:14-cv-13), Docket 64 (1:14-cv-14), and Docket 68 (1:14-cv-15). The Alaska Forest Association, the State of Alaska, the city of Craig, and Viking Lumber, Inc. (" Intervenors" ) also filed responses in opposition to Plaintiffs' motions for summary judgment at Docket 57 ( 1:14-cv-13), Docket 62 (1:14-cv-14), and Docket 69 (1:14-cv-15). Plaintiffs reply at Docket 68 ( 1:14-cv-13), Docket 68 (1:14-cv-14), and Docket 72 (1:14-cv-15). In their responsive filings, USFS moves for summary judgment.

Plaintiffs also have requested oral argument at Docket 28 (1:14-cv-15) and to strike portions of Intervenors' response in opposition at Docket 66 (1:14-cv-14). Motions for preliminary injunction have also been made by Plaintiffs at Docket 85 (1:14-cv-13) and Docket 78 (1:14-cv-15). As a preliminary matter, the Court grants Plaintiffs' unopposed motion for judicial notice at Docket 70 (1:14-cv-14). Plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief from USFS, asking the Court to prevent the commencement of timber activities scheduled to begin April 1, 2015.

II. GOVERNING PROVISIONS

A. NFMA

The National Forest Management Act (" NFMA" ) requires the Forest Service to manage the National Forest System through a two-tiered land management process.[1] The first tier calls for " land and resource management plans," commonly referred to as forest plans, which define allowed uses in various parts of the forest, establish management goals, and set standards and guidelines for site-specific ...


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