Central S.D. Co-op. Grazing Dist. v. Secretary of Agriculture
266 F.3d 889 (8th Cir. 2001)
The US Forest Service, in
compliance with the National Forest Management Act (NFMA), did an analysis of the Fort Pierre National Grassland in North
Dakota and created the Nebraska Forest Plan to regulate the use of the
The Forest Service set the
maximum number of grazing permits at about 70k Animal Unit Months (AUMs).
After years of research, the
Forest Service decided that 70k AUMs was too much grazing to maintain the
long-term health and productivity of the Grassland. They prepared a new
Environmental Assessment (EA) and reduced the amount of grazing permits to
Ranchers, led by the Co-op
sued for an injunction to stop them from lowering the number of grazing
The Co-op argued that the
Forest Service's analysis methods were wrong and that the land could
support 70k AUMs.
The Co-op also argued that
the Forest Service did not have enough data to support their conclusions.
The Trial Court found for the
Forest Service. The Co-op appealed.
The Appellate Court affirmed.
The Appellate Court found
that the Forest Service had done research and come to scientifically
defensible conclusions. Therefore the Court found that they should apply
the Chevron Doctrine and defer to
See Chevron U.S.A. Inc.
v. Natural Resources Defense Council
(467 U.S. 837 (1984)).
Compare to Natural
Resources Defense Council, Inc. v. Hodel
(819 F.2d 927 (1987)). In that case, the plaintiffs were suing the Bureau
of Land Management for not reducing the amount of grazing
permits. The Court in that case also decided to defer to Agency judgment.