Forest Service Not Required To Complete Environmental Analysis For Minor Variation In Project

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A federal court recently upheld the US Forest Service’s decision not to complete supplemental environmental review for a modification to its standard governing off-highway vehicle activity in a national forest.  The Forest Service had completed two draft environmental impact statements regarding the proposed standards.  When the agency released its final environmental impact statement, that statement contained more restrictive standards for off-highway vehicle activity than the prior versions.

The agency then received objections to the final environmental impact statement.  As a result, the agency modified their decision again by adding additional restrictions to off-highway use.  The plaintiffs argued that the final revisions should have been subject to further environmental review.  The court held that the final changes fell within the spectrum of alternatives discussed in prior analyses and were not sufficiently substantial to require additional environmental review.  The court specifically noted that when changes are more protective of the natural environment, the need for supplementary environmental review is lower.

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