Friends of the Norbeck, et al. v. United States Forest Service, et al., No. 11-1661 (8th Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
The district court dismissed plaintiff's complaint, concluding in relevant part that plaintiffs failed to exhaust the administrative remedies for their National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq., claim and that the Norbeck Wildlife Project was not arbitrary, capricious, or contrary to the Norbeck Organic Act (NOA), 16 U.S.C. 675. On appeal, plaintiffs argued that defendants violated NEPA and NOA by approving the project. The court held that because the court determined that plaintiffs did not exhaust their administrative remedies, it did not reach additional arguments raised by defendants and intervenors. The court also held that defendants' decision to approve the project was neither arbitrary nor capricious because defendants considered the direct and indirect effects of the project on the preserve's focus species, the management indicator species for the Black Hills National Forest, and species of local concern; defendants considered the habitat needs of various game animals and birds as well as the effects of the burning and logging activities; the district ranger adjusted the parameters of the approved project to try to mitigate the adverse impact on game animals and birds; and defendants seriously considered the no action alternative and provided ample explanation for why that option was inadequate.
Court Description: Civil case - Environmental law. Plaintiffs did not exhaust their administrative remedies for their NEPA claim; the Record of Decision and the final EIS make clear that the Forest Service considered the habitat needs of various game animals and birds, as well as the effect of logging and burning activities, and the management plan it developed to limit the spread of mountain pine beetle while balancing the habitat needs of the animals and birds in the preserve was neither arbitrary nor capricious.