Organized Village of Kake v. USDA, No. 11-35517 (9th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
The USDA decided to change its rules to allow roads to be built through an Alaskan forest it had previously ruled should be roadless. The district court held invalid the 2003 Record of Decision (ROD) that temporarily exempted the Tongass National Forest from application of the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule. Alaska appealed the order. The court concluded that the USDA's actions in settling the lawsuit and its reasoned explanation in the ROD supported the finding that the USDA believed that promulgating the Tongass exception would decrease litigation over the Roadless Rule. Under FCC v. Fox Television Stations' deferential standard, the USDA's ROD was not arbitrary and capricious. Further, it was not arbitrary and capricious for the USDA to promulgate the Roadless Rule exception to increase timber production to meet predicted future demand. Another reason for the USDA's promulgation of the ROD was because of its appreciation of the socioeconomic hardships created by the Roadless Rule. The court held that all of the USDA's reasons were acceptable under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. 701-706. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded.