Public lands access advocates lose latest skirmish with Forest Service over recreation fees

Summit County Voice 3/31/2014
Excerpt:    “
FRISCO — One of the legal efforts to try and check the recent proliferation of public land access fees was rebuffed by a federal court in Washington, D.C. last week. U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras ruled that private companies running recreation facilities on federal lands don’t have to follow the same regulations as agency managed facilities.

In a worst-case scenario, the ruling could open the door to more widespread fees for trailhead parking and other types of access that have traditionally been free, said Kitty Benzar, president of the West Slope No-Fee Coalition, a group dedicated to eliminating fees charged for access and recreation on undeveloped public lands.  ….”
Read entire article at http://summitcountyvoice.com/2014/03/31/public-lands-access-advocates-lose-latest-skirmish-with-forest-service-over-recreation-fees/

Forest Service’s law enforcers give management low marks

Seattle Times 3/31/2014
Excerpt:     “A new survey shows morale at the U.S. Forest Service — not the happiest workplaces among federal agencies — is particularly low among law-enforcement officers who patrol the national forests.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is not known for workplace contentment, ranking fourth from the bottom among 19 federal agencies as best places to work in an annual report last year.
Morale inside the USDA’s Forest Service branch is lower still.  …”
Read entire article at http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2023266234_forestservicemoralexml.html

 

Federal judge upholds bighorn protection plan

Washington Times 3/26/2014
Excerpt:      “
BOISE, Idaho (AP) – A federal judge has ruled that a U.S. Forest Service plan to reduce domestic sheep grazing on the Payette National Forest by about 70 percent to protect bighorn sheep from diseases will remain in place.  Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge A. Wallace Tashima, sitting by designation for the District of Idaho, made the ruling Tuesday.

“This really helps solidify that the Forest Service has done a first-rate analysis of the disease transmission between bighorn and domestic sheep,” said Craig Gehrke of The Wilderness Society, which intervened in the case along with several other conservation groups. …..”
Read entire story at http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/mar/26/federal-judge-upholds-bighorn-protection-plan/?page=all#pagebreak

Appeals ruling would allow logging in Tongass forest roadless areas

Los Angeles Times 3/26/2014
Excerpt:      “
A federal appeals court sided with the state of Alaska on Wednesday in a ruling that could open a large portion of the Tongass National Forest to road building and logging.

In a split decision, a panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a ruling by a district court, which found that the U.S. Forest Service had improperly exempted the Tongass from a 2001 rule banning new roads and timber harvesting on relatively pristine national forestland across the country.  But it’s unclear what the practical effects of the new ruling will be. The panel sent the case back to the lower court to decide whether the Forest Service needs to prepare environmental documents for the exemption. ….”
Read entire article at http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-tongass-roadless-ruling-20140326,0,2002899.story

Government Accounting Office Report Shows Limited Cost of Environmental Litigation

Santa Cruz IMC 3/26/2014
Excerpt:     “
WASHINGTON— A report released on March 26 by the Government Accountability Office (see PDF) demonstrates that litigation brought by environmental groups is not the calamity-inducing threat to the National Forest system that House Republicans have repeatedly claimed for the past three years. The GAO’s analysis shows that from 2001 to 2010, fees awarded in 16 successful lawsuits brought because of violations of the Endangered Species Act amounted to $1.6 million. By contrast, the U.S. Department of Agriculture paid $13.5 million in attorney’s fees to citizen plaintiffs for violations related to the Civil Rights Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. ….”
Read entire article at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/03/26/18753172.php

Thompson Agriculture Oversight Hearing Exposes Widespread Abuse of Taxpayer Funded Lawsuits

Gant Daily 3/27/2014
Excerpt:    
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (PA-5), chairman of the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy and Forestry, held a public hearing to review the impact of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and related litigation on the U.S. Forest Service and National Forest System management.

The ESA was signed into law in 1973 in order to “preserve, protect, and recover key domestic species.” Since its enactment, more than 1,500 domestic species have been classified as either threatened or endangered, with only 28 of those species having been delisted as of September of 2012.  …”
Read entire article at http://gantdaily.com/2014/03/27/thompson-agriculture-oversight-hearing-exposes-widespread-abuse-of-taxpayer-funded-lawsuits/

 

Judge rules timber project unlawful

Capital Press 3/25/2014
Excerpt:       “
A federal judge declared a timber project unlawful in Idaho’s Panhandle National Forests.    The U.S. Forest Service unlawfully approved a 2,500-acre timber project in Idaho’s Panhandle National Forests, according to a federal judge.
In 2011, the agency decided to conduct logging, road building, prescribed burning and vegetation management in the Fern Hardy Resource Area.  The Forest Service’s goal was to reduce the risk of wildfire, but the Idaho Conservation League objected to the plan…….”
Read entire article at http://www.capitalpress.com/Timber/20140325/judge-rules-timber-project-unlawful

New Idaho wolf law draws howls of outrage

Summit County Voice 3/21/2014
Excerpt:       “
FRISCO — Just a few years after Congress removed endangered species protection for wolves in Idaho, state lawmakers seem hellbent on driving the predators back to brink of extirpation.

The Idaho Legislature this week created a wolf depredation control board controlled by anti-wildlife interests. The board will administer a $400,000 fund set up explicitly to kill wolves. Conservation advocates say the new law could result in the slaughter of 500 wolves, leaving just 150 in the state. ..”
Read entire article at http://summitcountyvoice.com/2014/03/21/new-idaho-wolf-law-draws-howls-of-outrage/#more-63875

Tributes pour in for slain U.S. Forest Service officer

Charlotte Observer 3/14/2014
Excerpt:     
  “MORGANTON   Tributes are pouring in online for a U.S. Forest Service officer who was shot and killed along with his search dog while pursuing a suspect in a double slaying near Morganton.
Officer Jason Crisp, 39, of Marion, and his dog, Maros, were gunned down around 3 p.m. Wednesday as they approached Troy David Whisnant, 38, suspected of killing his stepmother and father, Rhonda and Levi Whisnant.  ….”

Read entire article at http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/03/13/4762483/burke-sheriff-suspect-shot-after.html#.UyLhRoXLLYw

Biodiversity: Montana Supreme Court ends bison battle

Summit County Voice 3/13/2014
Excerpt:       “
FRISCO — Native bison will get more room to roam outside Yellowstone National Park, as the Montana Supreme Court affirmed a lower court decision that will end the slaughter of bison leaving the park. The court decision also gives the wild animals seasonal access to important winter and early spring habitat outside the north boundary of the park in the Gardiner Basin area until May 1 of each year. …”
Read entire article at http://summitcountyvoice.com/2014/03/13/biodiversity-montana-supreme-court-ends-bison-battle/#more-63723