The opinion of the court was delivered by: Urbina, District Judge.
DENYING THE DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO TRANSFER
This matter comes before the court upon the defendants' motion
to transfer this action to the District of Montana. This case is
about statutory construction, cattle-grazing permits, the
National Environmental Policy Act ("NEPA"), 42 U.S.C. § 4321
et seq., the Rescissions Act,*fn1 Pub.L. No. 10419,
§ 504, 109 Stat. 194 (1995), and bison, also known as buffalo.
The plaintiffs, five conservation groups, filed a complaint
pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act ("APA"),
5 U.S.C. § 551, 701 et seq., alleging that the U.S. Forest Service
failed to comply with Section 504 of the Rescissions Act when it
renewed the cattle-grazing permit for the Horse Butte Allotment
("HBA"), without analyzing the environmental impact of this
permit. The plaintiffs also claim that defendants' granting of
this permit violates NEPA. The conservation groups are concerned
about this permit because it poses serious consequences for the
bison in Yellowstone National Park. For the following reasons,
the court will deny the defendants' motion to transfer.
The remnants of the bison herds that once roamed the Western
United States exist today in Yellowstone National Park. See
id. ¶¶ 20-21. Because bison carry a bacteria that causes a
contagious disease among cattle, the National Park Service, the
Forest Service, and the State of Montana capture and kill bison
roaming on national forest land used for private cattle grazing,
such as the HBA. See id. ¶¶ 21-22. On December 19, 2000, the
Forest Service allegedly renewed a private cattle owner's
grazing permit for the HBA for an additional 10 years without
first assessing the environmental impact of this extension.
See Compl. ¶ 37.
The treatment of bison on HBA provides the background for this
lawsuit which involves more directly statutory construction,
grazing permits, NEPA, and the Rescissions Act. The plaintiffs
filed a complaint in this court on July 11, 2001, pursuant to
the Administrative Procedure Act, alleging that the "Forest
Service's failure to conduct any environmental analysis of the
HBA before renewing the grazing permit for the allotment
violates NEPA and is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of
discretion, and otherwise not in accordance with law." Compl. ¶¶
44-46. The plaintiffs also claim that the "Forest Service's
failure to adhere to its NEPA compliance schedule for the HBA
violates the Rescissions Act and is arbitrary, capricious, an
abuse of discretion, and otherwise not in accordance with law."
Id. ¶¶ 39-42.
The plaintiffs consist of the following conservation groups:
Greater Yellowstone Coalition, headquartered in Montana;
Intertribal Bison Cooperative, headquartered in South Dakota;
Defenders of Wildlife, headquartered in the District of
Columbia; National Wildlife Federation, headquartered in Reston,
Virginia with offices in the District of Columbia and Montana;
Wyoming Wildlife Federation, headquartered in Wyoming; and
Gallatin Wildlife Association, headquartered in Montana. See
Compl. ¶¶ 2-7. The plaintiffs' complaint names three defendants:
Dale Bosworth, in his official capacity as Chief of the U.S.
Forest Service, residing in Washington, D.C., U.S. Department of
Agriculture; Rich Inman, in his official capacity as Acting
Forest Supervisor of the Gallatin National Forest, residing in
Bozeman, Montana; and Gary L. Benes, in his official capacity as
a District Ranger of the Hebgen Lake Ranger District of the
Gallatin National Forest, residing in West Yellowstone, Montana.
See id. ¶¶ 10-13.
In her declaration, Karen Kovacs Trevino explains that, from
July 1998 to November 2000, she served as the Senior Counselor
to the Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of the
Interior for the Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and from November
2000 to May 2001, she was a Special Assistant to the Director of
the National Park Service. See Trevino Decl. ¶ 1. In the late
fall of 2000, Ms. Trevino was involved in discussions with
Department of Interior officials and U.S. Forest Service
officials in Washington, D.C. concerning the impact of the HBA
grazing permit on the Yellowstone National Park's bison herd.
See id. ¶ 2. Three of the meetings addressing the HBA grazing
permit occurred at the Forest Service's headquarters in
Washington, D.C. See id. ¶ 6.
The defendants have moved to transfer venue to the District of
Montana, specifically to United States District Judge Charles C.
Lovell. The plaintiffs oppose the defendants' motion, asserting
that this is a case requiring statutory interpretation and thus
involves national, not merely local, concerns.
A. Legal Standard for Motion to Transfer Venue
Section 1404(a) provides that for the "convenience of parties
and witnesses, in the interest of justice, a district court may
transfer any civil action to any other district or division
where it might have been brought." See 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). As
the moving party, the defendant bears the burden of establishing
that the transfer of this action is proper. See Air Line Pilots
Ass'n v. Eastern Air Lines, 672 F. Supp. 525, 526 (D.C. 1987).
Courts have discretion to adjudicate motions to transfer
according to case-by-case considerations of both convenience and
fairness. See Stewart Org., Inc. v. ...