United States District Court, D. Idaho
WILDERNESS WATCH, FRIENDS OF THE CLEARWATER, and WESTERN WATERSHEDS PROJECT Plaintiffs,
TOM VILSACK, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture; TOM TIDWELL, Chief, U.S. Forest Service; NORA RASURE, Regional Forester of Region Four of the U.S. Forest Service; CHARLES MARK, Salmon-Challis National Forest Supervisor; and VIRGIL MOORE, Director, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
LYNN WINMILL CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
Court has before it motions to reconsider filed by defendants
Forest Service and Virgil Moore, Director of the Idaho
Department of Fish and Game (IDFG). The motions are fully
briefed and at issue. For the reasons explained below, the
Court will grant both motions in part.
plaintiffs filed this suit challenging the Forest
Service's approval of an IDFG helicopter project in the
Frank Church Wilderness to tranquilize and collar elk with
monitors to trace their movements. Ignoring a prior directive
of the Court, the Forest Service allowed the project to begin
immediately, preventing plaintiff environmental groups from
being able to timely seek injunctive relief. Within three
days the IDFG project was completed, and 57 elk and 4 wolves
Court held that the project violated NEPA and the Wilderness
Act, and was carried out in violation of a prior Court
directive requiring the Forest Service to give notice of such
projects to allow environmental groups time to object. The
Court ordered that all the data on both wolves and elk gained
from that operation be destroyed. The Court also enjoined the
Forest Service from approving any future helicopter projects
without delaying implementation for 90-days to allow affected
groups to file challenges to the projects.
defendants seek reconsideration of that decision, urging the
Court to reverse its decision ordering the data to be
destroyed, and seeking to narrow the scope of the injunction.
The Court will turn first to the challenge to the data
Forest Service argues that plaintiffs never requested an
injunction preventing the Forest Service from considering the
elk data - only the wolf data. Plaintiffs' complaint was
so limited, but its briefing requesting an injunction urged
the Court to order that all the data - on both wolves and elk
- be destroyed. See Plaintiffs' Brief (Dkt. No.
21-1) at p. 25. The IDFG and the Forest Service have had
a full and fair opportunity to address this issue and cannot
argue they were surprised by the injunction issued by the
defendants argue next that the Court went too far in imposing
a mandatory injunction requiring that the data be destroyed.
The Court addressed this argument at length in its Memorandum
Decision and will not repeat it here. It is enough to say
that the public interest demanded this consequence for the
violations of NEPA, the Wilderness Act, and this Court's
prior order, and that it was necessary to prevent future harm
from the use of the data to track wolves and justify further
helicopter intrusions on the Wilderness Area.
defendants are on stronger ground in arguing that the portion
of the injunction requiring 90-days notice be limited to
“elk collaring activities.” In a broader
alternative, defendants propose applying it to
“wildlife management activities.” The plaintiffs
object that these changes would unduly limit the injunction,
although they would agree to a modification ensuring that the
injunction would not apply to “helicopter operations
that are necessary on an emergency basis to protect human
health, safety, or property, such as search and rescue or
fire control, or for emergency law enforcement
injunction must be tailored to be no broader than necessary.
See Nat. Res. Def. Council v. Winter, 508 F.3d 885,
886 (9th Cir. 2007) (holding that “[i]njunctive relief
must be tailored to remedy the specific harm alleged, and an
overbroad . . . injunction is an abuse of discretion”).
This case was about a helicopter project designed to further
wildlife management activities in the Wilderness Area, and
the injunction should be so tailored. Accordingly, the Court
will adopt the defendants' suggestion that the 90-day
notice requirement be limited to helicopter projects for
“wildlife management activities.” The Court will
also adopt the suggestion of both sides that the injunction
not apply to emergency operations to protect human health,
safety or property.
accordance with the Memorandum Decision set forth above, NOW
THEREFORE IT IS HEREBY ORDERED, that the motions to alter or
amend the judgment (docket nos. 54 & 55) be GRANTED IN
PART AND DENIED IN PART. They are granted to the extent that
they seek to amend the scope of the injunction issued in the
Memorandum Decision (docket no. 52) and Judgment (docket no.
53). They are denied in all other respects.
FURTHER ORDERED, that the injunction issued in the Memorandum
Decision (docket no. 52) and Judgment (docket no. 53) is
amended to add the following language: The Forest Service is
enjoined from approving any future helicopter projects for
wildlife management activities without delaying
implementation for 90-days to allow affected groups to file
challenges to the projects. This injunction shall not apply
to helicopter operations that are necessary on an emergency