US Forest Service Sued for “Flawed” Sage Hen Project

The Idaho Conservation League filed a complaint in the District of Idaho against the U.S. Forest Service and Fish and Wildlife Service for their approval of the “Sage Hen Integrated Restoration Project” that, according to the plaintiffs, could damage and disrupt the ecosystems of the West Mountains.

According to the complaint, the defendants “rushed the Sage Hen Project to approval, cut out the public, failed to consider alternatives, refused to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement, and deferred analyzing important effects to fish, plants, and wildlife until after the Project is underway,” all allegedly in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Furthermore, surveying the area and developing plans to protect wildlife is required to be conducted before the approval of projects under Idaho law, the plaintiffs claim. This plan also relies on a “flawed” Biological Opinion that “fails to protect ‘threatened’ bull trout” even though they are few in number and susceptible to the effects of climate change. Furthermore, they did not consider alternatives to reduce the impacts to plants, fish and wildlife and only considered “the agency’s proposed action and a ‘no action’ alternative.”

The plaintiffs alleged that the assessment failed to disclose “the location, number, duration, timing, method, and other important details of logging truck crossings of occupied bull trout streams” as well as any alternatives or mitigation measures. They also didn’t account for the location of any nests or dens for various species. As a result, the plaintiffs are suing for violations of NEPA, the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), and Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The Idaho Conservation League is seeking a declaration that the approval of the Sage Hen project was arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of discretion, injunctive relief, attorney’s fees and costs, and other relief. 

The plaintiffs are represented by Advocates for the West