United States District Court, D. Montana, Butte Division
GALLATIN WILDLIFE ASSOCIATION, YELLOWSTONE BUFFALO FOUNDATION, Plaintiff,
UNITED STATES FOREST SERVICE; et al., Defendants, and HELLE LIVESTOCK, a partnership; and REBISH/KONEN LIVESTOCK LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, Defendant-Intervenors, and MONTANA WOOL GROWERS ASSOCIATION and the AMERICAN SHEEP INDUSTRY, Defendant-Intervenors
Morris United States District Court Judge.
the Court is Plaintiff Gallatin Wildlife Association's
motion for an injunction pending appeal. (Doc. 178.) The
Court held a hearing on this motion on March 7, 2018. (Doc.
Gallatin Wildlife Association (“Gallatin”),
WildEarth Guardians, Western Watersheds Project, and
Yellowstone Buffalo Foundation filed their complaint on June
11, 2015. Plaintiffs challenged the Revised Forest Plan,
Allotment Management Plans, and Annual Operating Instructions
for the domestic sheep allotments in the Gravelly Mountains
on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest
(“BDNF”). (Doc. 73 at 1.) Plaintiffs alleged that
the United States Forest Service (“USFS”), Leanne
Marten in her official capacity as Regional Forester of the
USFS, and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service
(“USFWS”) (collectively “Federal
Defendants”) violated the National Environmental Policy
Act (“NEPA”), the National Forest Management Act
(“NFMA”), and the Administrative Procedures Act
(“APA”), when they authorized the Revised Forest
Plan, Allotment Management Plans, and Annual Operating
Instructions. (Doc. 73 at 3, 11-13.)
Court granted leave to intervene as Defendant-Intervenors to
Helle Livestock and Rebish/Konen Livestock Limited
Partnership (“Permitees”) on June 3, 2015. (Doc.
28.) The Court likewise granted leave to intervene as
Defendant-Intervenors to Montana Wool Growers on August 31,
2015. (Doc. 68.)
moved the Court for a preliminary injunction
(“Injunction I”) against the USFS on June 15,
2015. (Doc. 3.) Gallatin sought to enjoin domestic sheep
grazing on the Cottonwood and Fossil-Hellroaring allotments.
These allotments constitute two of the seven allotments
subject to this action. The Court held a hearing on the
motion on July 8, 2015. (Doc. 39.) The Court denied
Gallatin's motion for Injunction I on July 10, 2015.
appealed the Court's denial of the preliminary injunction
to the Ninth Circuit (“Appeal I”) and requested
an emergency injunction pending appeal (“Injunction
II”) on July 13, 2015. (Doc. 44.) The Ninth Circuit
denied Gallatin's emergency motion for Injunction II on
July 17, 2015. (Doc. 49.)
also moved this Court for an injunction pending its appeal of
the denial of the preliminary injunction on July 16, 2015
(“Injunction III”). (Doc. 47.) The Court denied
the motion for Injunction III on August 4, 2015. (Doc. 61.)
Gallatin moved to dismiss voluntarily Appeal I on July 30,
2015. (Doc. 59 at 1.) The Ninth Circuit granted the motion to
dismiss on July 31, 2015. (Doc. 59.)
moved for summary judgment on February 25, 2016. (Doc. 116.)
Plaintiffs sought judgment that the USFS had violated NEPA in
three ways. Plaintiffs sought, in the alternative, permanent
injunctive relief (“Injunction IV”) from domestic
sheep grazing and trailing in the BDNF. Id. at 3.
Court granted summary judgment on two of Gallatin's three
claims. (Doc. 148.) The Court determined that the USFS had
not acted arbitrarily and capriciously in using “coarse
filter” methodology in its Forest Plan NEPA analysis.
(Doc. 148 at 15.) The Court determined that the USFS had
failed to comply with NEPA, however, by failing to disclose
and analyze the impacts of two Memoranda of Understanding
that Federal Defendants had entered with the Permittees to
allow domestic sheep to graze in the BDNF. (Doc. 148 at 26.)
The Court further concluded that the USFS had violated NEPA
when it failed to evaluate whether new information warranted
supplemental NEPA analyses of allotment management plans.
(Doc. 148 at 34-35.)
Court denied Plaintiffs' request for Injunction IV. (Doc.
148 at 36.) The Court instead ordered the USFS to complete
expedited environmental review to resolve the deficiencies in
the environmental analysis. The Court reasoned that the
supplemental environmental review process would require the
USFS to address the conflict between domestic sheep grazing
and the reintroduction of bighorn sheep. (Doc. 148 at 37.)
USFS appealed the summary judgment order on August 15, 2016
(“Appeal II”). (Doc. 153.) The USFS moved to
dismiss voluntarily Appeal II on November 23, 2016. (Doc. 157
at 1.) The Ninth Circuit granted that motion on November 30,
2016. (Doc. 157.)
appealed the summary judgment order on August 18, 2018
(“Appeal III”). (Doc. 155.) The Ninth Circuit
released Appeal III from mediation on December 13, 2016, and
set a briefing schedule. Gallatin Wildlife Association,
et. al., v. USFS, et. al, No. 16-35665, Doc. 11
(December 13, 2016).
filed its opening brief on appeal on February 15, 2017.
Gallatin Wildlife Association, et. al., v. USFS, et.
al, No. 16-35665, Doc. 12 (February 15, 2017). Gallatin
argues that the Court erred in upholding the USFS's
selection of “coarse filter” methodology.
Id. at 21. Gallatin further argues that the Court
abused its discretion in denying its request for Injunction
IV. Id. at 22.
parties returned to mediation. The Ninth Circuit again
released Appeal III from mediation on December 27, 2017.
Gallatin Wildlife Association, et. al., v. USFS, et.
al, No. 16-35665, Doc. 34 (December 27, 2017). The USFS
filed its answer brief on February 21, 2018. Gallatin
Wildlife Association, et. al., v. USFS, et. al, No.
16-35665, Doc. 35 (December 13, 2016). Appeal III remains
Court on January 17, 2018, ordered the parties to file a
joint status report by February 9, 2018. (Doc. 177.) Gallatin
filed the instant motion for injunction pending appeal
(“Injunction V”) on January 18, 2018. (Doc. 178.)
Plaintiffs WildEarth Guardians and Western Watersheds Project
notified the Court on January 31, 2018, that they did not
participate in the appeal and are not parties to this stage
of the litigation. (Doc. 182.)