This standard affords great deference to agency decisions and presumes that agency action is valid. Motor Vehicle Mfrs. v. Ruckelshaus, 231 U.S. App. D.C. 240, 719 F.2d 1159, 1164 (D.C. Cir. 1983) District courts have also held that the Forest Service has wide discretion to weigh and decide the proper uses within any area of the National Forests. See Big Hole Ranchers v. U.S. Forest Service, 686 F. Supp. 256, 264 (D. Mont. 1988); National Wildlife Federation v. U.S. Forest Service, 592 F. Supp. 931, 938 (D.Ore. 1984); Sierra Club v. Hardin, 325 F. Supp. 99, 123 (D. Alaska 1971)
1. Arbitrary and Capricious
With regard to Counts I, II and IV, plaintiffs contend that the Forest Service's selection of Alternative 9A was arbitrary and capricious on two accounts. First, plaintiffs argue that the Forest Service used an untested water yield model revealing that Alternative 6 did not meet the Forest Plan Yield Guidelines which establish allowable peak flows. FEIS at IV-35. Second, plaintiffs also argue that it failed to consider the effect of wildfires on the grizzly bear habitat.
With regard to the water yield model, plaintiffs' own exhibit reveals that the Forest Service did not use the R1-R4 model which plaintiffs claim is untested and plaintiffs drew their arguments from documents explaining why the R1-R4 model was rejected. Instead plaintiffs used the Clearcut Equivalent Area Model that compares peak flows generated by harvest related activities. FEIS at IV-35. Plaintiffs present no evidence as to why the court should presume that the Forest Service's conclusion was arbitrary and capricious.
Second, it is clear that the Forest Service was well aware of the effects of the wildfire on the grizzly bear habitat when it stated that in the FEIS that "wildfire has the potential to affect many natural resources including soil, plant, succession, air quality, water, microclimate, wildlife and fish. It continued that the effects of wildfires can be both beneficial and destructive. FEIS at IV-147. Moreover, the FEIS included extensive analysis of the effect of each alternative on wildlife, the effect of Mountain Pine Beetle infestation on the fuel load and the overall risk of wildfire. FEIS at III-38,40, IV-147, IV-147.
Therefore, this court concludes that the Forest Service was not arbitrary and capricious in the selection of a water-yield model and when it considered the risk of wildfire to the grizzly bear.
2. Organic Act, MUSYA and NFMA
In counts I and II of the first amended complaint, plaintiffs allege that defendants violated the Organic Act, MUSYA and NFMA.
Plaintiffs argue that the primary purpose of these statutes is to require the Forest Service to secure a continuous supply of timber and that Alternative 9A fails to do this by not adequately addressing the potential for wildfire caused by the Mountain Pine Beetle infestation.
Plaintiffs incorrectly rely on United States v. New Mexico, 438 U.S. 696, 57 L. Ed. 2d 1052, 98 S. Ct. 3012 (1978) in interpreting these statutes. Plaintiffs assert that New Mexico stands for the proposition that the purpose of the National Forest System is to provide a continuous supply of timber. This is an incorrect interpretation of that case. There, the Court held that the United States may not extend the implied reservation of water doctrine beyond the scope of the Organic Act. Id. at 713. In other words, the federal government only has a right to water for purposes of securing a continuous supply of timber and securing favorable conditions for water flows. Access to water for purposes of recreation, aesthetics, wildlife preservation and cattle grazing are governed by state law. The Court stated:
"While we conclude that the Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield Act of 1960 was intended to broaden the purposes for which national forests had previously been administered, we agreed that Congress did not intend to thereby expand the reserved rights of the United States." Id. at 713. The Court recognized that the Forest Service is governed by the multiple-use sustained yield standard in administering forests, which is at issue in this case.
Additionally, the plain language of the statutes reflect congressional intent to direct the Forest Service to administer according the multiple-use sustained-yield standard. 16 U.S.C. §§ 528. 529 and 530; 16 U.S.C. §§ 1604(e) and 1607.
Plaintiffs then contend that defendants ignore the purpose of insuring a continuous supply of timber. This is an improper characterization of defendants' action. The Forest Service clearly recognized the importance of timber harvesting to this area. FEIS at I-7, IV-311-317. It also considered the risk of wildfire caused by the Mountain Pine Beetle and how these factors affect the grizzly bear habitat. FEIS at III-38 and 40, IV-147,148. Plaintiffs state that the only way to control the Mountain Pine Beetle infestation is by harvesting timber. The only evidence to support this claim is an affidavit by a member of one of the organizations bringing this suit. This is not sufficient to overcome the deference granted to the agency.
In Count IV, plaintiffs argue that defendants have violated several NFMA regulations. This court finds that the plaintiffs have offered no evidence indicating that the defendants have failed to comply with NFMA regulations.
This court holds that Counts I, II and IV of the first amended complaint will be dismissed due to lack of standing. Furthermore, plaintiffs' claims would be also be dismissed on the merits if plaintiffs had been able to meet the standing requirements.
A separate order shall issue this date.
Royce C. Lamberth
United States District Judge
This case comes before the court on cross-motions for summary judgment. Upon consideration of the plaintiffs' and the defendants' motions, oppositions thereto, the materials submitted by the parties in support of their positions, the relevant law, and the reasons more fully set forth in a memorandum opinion issued by the court this date, it is hereby ORDERED that Defendants' motion for dismissal of counts I, II and IV is hereby GRANTED.
The other counts having been previously dismissed, this action now stands DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
Royce C. Lamberth
United States District Judge