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Wisconsin's Governor Scott Walker Declares Timber Emergency

Posted by nationalforestlawblog on August 24, 2011 at 8:50 PM Comments comments (0)

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Scott Walker has declared a timber emergency in northern Wisconsin.  The emergency will allow the DNR to take charge of clearing and removing hundreds of thousands of downed trees from recent storms.  

Forest Service agrees to void timber contracts

Posted by nationalforestlawblog on August 17, 2011 at 9:40 PM Comments comments (0)

According to this report from Bloomberg Businessweek, the Forest Service is cancelling timber contracts in an attempt to save Colorado's 3 remaining sawmills.  The report indicates that the contracts are no longer viable for the mills due to the beetle outbreak and the economy, but doesn't exactly explain why.  The report quotes Senator Udall as saying that the "Contracts with the federal government before the recession don't provide them with enough money to cover the costs of cutting trees and turning them into lumber and other wood products".   

A better report from the Denver Post indicates that the cancelled contracts will allow the loggers to focus on the dead and dying beetle-killed trees before they are no longer commercially viable.  

10th Circuit Upholds "Amenity Fee" For Mount Evans

Posted by nationalforestlawblog on August 17, 2011 at 9:30 PM Comments comments (0)

The 10th Circuit's recent opinion, authored by Judge Gorsuch, begins:  

Everyone enjoys a trip to the mountains in the summertime. One popular spot is Mt. Evans — a fourteen thousand foot peak just a short drive from Denver and with a paved road that goes right to the summit. When the snow melts and the road thaws, the national forest around Mount Evans teems with hikers and sightseers eager to take in the breathtaking views. But first they have to stop and pay. That's because the Forest Service maintains an entrance station along the road where it charges many visitors what it calls an "amenity fee." Wanting everyone to be able to hike Mount Evans and take in its scenery without charge, the plaintiffs in this case ask us to strike down the Service's fee policy as facially inconsistent with Congress's directions, to hold it null and void in all applications. This, however, we agree with the district court we cannot do. For better or worse, the Legislature has said that the Service may — sometimes — charge visitors to Mount Evans.

The Court ultimately holds that the Recreation Enhancement Act allows the Forest Service to impose "amenity fees" in areas that "provide[] significant opportunities for outdoor recreation," where there are "substantial Federal investments" - which includes Mt. Evans.  You can read more from the decision here.

It is always noteworthy to me that the environmentalists refuse to pay a small user fee to access public lands.  They want all the access on one hand without having to pay and then sue to keep other users whom they disagree with out.  

Forest service lets mining projects proceed in Tongass

Posted by nationalforestlawblog on August 17, 2011 at 9:25 PM Comments comments (0)

The Anchorage Daily News has this report on two mining projects recently approved by the Forest Service.  According to the report:

"Greens Creek will be able to continue expansion of its tailing site 20 miles southwest of Juneau within the Admiralty Island National Monument. The other approval was given to the Niblack Mine 30 miles southwest of Ketchikan on Prince of Wales Island."


Wyoming Judge Tosses Obama Drilling Rules

Posted by nationalforestlawblog on August 13, 2011 at 11:55 AM Comments comments (1)


The AP reports here that Judge Freundenthal of the Wyoming Federal District Court in Cheyenne has ruled agains the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management's attempt to slow down drilling permits.  The court ruled that the BLM and Forest Service had failed to follow the correct procedures in issuing a new interpretation of federal law that limited the use of "categorical exclusions," which exempt certain actions from full environmental oversight..  According to the AP article:

"In Wyoming, the BLM invoked categorical exclusions for 87 percent of the new gas wells drilled in the Upper Green River Basin between 2007 and 2010. Those drilling permits added up: Close to 3,000 over those three years in the basin's Jonah Field and Pinedale Anticline gas fields."

Whitebark Pines Won't Get ESA Protection - Yet.

Posted by nationalforestlawblog on July 18, 2011 at 5:18 PM Comments comments (0)

According to a report from the AP, the federal government is citing lack of funding and other priorities for its decision not to list the whitebark pine under the Endangered Species Act.  The whitebark pine is an important food source for grizzlies and it's decline has been cited in litigation over grizzly protections near Yellowstone and Grand Teton. 

New Decision - Alliance for the Wild Rockies v. Weldon

Posted by nationalforestlawblog on July 7, 2011 at 3:52 PM Comments comments (0)

Montana - Judge Lovell of the District Court for the District of Montana denied the plaintiff's request to withdraw its motion for a preliminary injunction as to the State of Montana's aerial hazing of buffalo.  First, the court found that the plaintiff failed to join the State of Montana, an indispensible party.  Second, the court ruled that the case should continue on the merits because whether the state could haze the buffalo from the sky under the ESA is an important issue needed to be resolved.  The court basically stated that although the hazing had currently ended, it would continue.  The court ordered the government to answer the complaint in 30 days.  11-CV-76-M-CCL (D. Mont. June 6, 2011).

District Judge Anna Brown Rejects Enviros Lawsuit to Stop Timber Sale

Posted by nationalforestlawblog on June 30, 2011 at 3:41 PM Comments comments (0)

The court rejected environmental groups' lawsuit over the Forest Service's thinning plan for Umatilla National Forest in Oregon.  The League of Wilderness Defenders-Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project and the Sierra Club say the Wildcat Fuels Reduction and Vegetation Management Project was approved after a deficient environmental assessment. The groups were critical of the project near/within/around a so-called pristine (garden of eden-paradisal) roadless expanse.  The case was originally filed in August of 2009.  Judge Brown, a Clinton-appointee rejected the appeal, writing:


On this record the Court agrees the Forest Service is entitled to deference and, therefore, the Court defers to the Forest Service’s technical expertise and its scientists. Accordingly, the Court adopts the Forest Service’s conclusion that the impact of the proposed Timber Sale on roadless expanses in the Forest would not be significant and would not substantially affect the quality of the human environment. See Found. for N. Am. Wild Sheep, 681 F.2d 1172, 1178 (9th Cir. 1982).


You can access the full text opinion here.

2011 Public Land Law Conference September 14-16 at the University of Montana School of Law

Posted by nationalforestlawblog on June 27, 2011 at 12:41 PM Comments comments (0)

The Public Land & Resources Law Review at the University of Montana School of Law is excited to host the 34th Public Land Law Conference this fall at the University of Montana in Missoula, Montana. If possible, please post this event on your calendar of events and also consider attending. Below is all the pertinent information. Also, attached is the conference schedule.

What: Public Land Law Conference: “Strengthening Our Roots: Forest Law &

Policy in a Changing World.”

Hosted by: University of Montana Public Land & Resources Law Review

Where: Third Floor Conference Room, The University Center, The University of

Montana, Missoula, MT

When: Sept. 14-16, 2011

Cost: Free

The Scoop: Experts from throughout Montana and the western United States will

gather at the University of Montana for a three-day Public Land Law Conference.

Speakers and panelists will examine an array of forest-related issues, including an

assessment of 100 years of forest planning, new rules in forest planning, Native

American use rights on forest lands, media coverage of forest issues, and legal

issues in forest management. University of Colorado Law Professor Charles

Wilkinson will be the conference keynote speaker at the event, hosted by the

University of Montana Public Land & Resources Law Review.



Dave Whisenand

Conference Editor

Public Land & Resources Law Review

Forest Service Helps Develop A Better Baseball Bat

Posted by nationalforestlawblog on June 15, 2011 at 11:05 PM Comments comments (0)

The USDA Forest Service's Forest Products Lab in Madison is helping solve the age old problem with broken bats.  According to this press release the USDA's research engineers have recommended changes to slope of grain to stop multiple fractures from occurring resulting in a signficant safety hazard to players and fans.  You can read a more in depth piece here from the Associated Press.

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