Forest Guardians v. United States Forest Service
329 F.3d 1089 (9th Cir. 2003)
Pursuant to the Multiple-Use
Sustained-Yield Act of 1960, (16
U.S.C. §§528-531) (MUSYA), the US Forest Service issued a Forest Plan
for the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest.
The Forest Plan, provided
for grazing of livestock on certain portions (allotments) of forest land.
The Forest Service developed
two Allotment Management Plans (AMPs) for six grazing allotments in the
The purpose of the two AMPs
was to determine whether livestock grazing should be authorized, and if so,
what the appropriate management strategy would be.
The Forest Service conceded
that there was too much grazing by both cattle and wild animals (deer,
The Forest Service concluded
that the grazing permits had to be revised to comply with the Forest Plan
and the applicable environmental laws.
The Forest Service canceled
existing permits and issued new permits that provided for a gradual
three-year reduction of the number of cattle allowed to graze, and
calculated the number of permits on the basis that 100% of the available
grass would be eaten by cattle (assuming none would be eaten by wild
It also allowed the Forest
Service to 'experiment' with different strategies by issuing temporary
Environmental groups (led by
the Forest Guardians) sued for an injunction.
The Guardians argued that
the new system violated the consistency provision of the National
Forest Management Act (NFMA), because the Forest Plan requires balancing
grazing capacity with use and environmental concerns. This plan wasn't
balanced, it gave 100% to the cattle ranchers and left nothing for the
The Trial Court found for the
Forest Service. The Guardians appealed.
The Appellate Court affirmed.
The Appellate Court found
that Agency decisions should only be overturned if they are arbitrary and
The Court looked at the
Forest Service's decisions-making process and found that the Forest
Service's plan was reasonable, and therefore not arbitrary and capricious.