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Karuk Tribe v. U.S. Forest Service Court Order and Decision 6-1-12

Karuk Tribe v. U.S. Forest Service Court Order and Decision 6-1-12

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Karuk Tribe v. U.S. Forest Service Court Order and Decision 6-1-12
Karuk Tribe v. U.S. Forest Service Court Order and Decision 6-1-12

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Published by: Information Network for Responsible Mining on Jun 01, 2012
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06/05/2012

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FOR PUBLICATION
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALSFOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT
K
ARUK
T
RIBE OF
C
ALIFORNIA
,
Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.No. 05-16801U
NITED
S
TATES
F
OREST
S
ERVICE
;D.C. No.
M
ARGARET
B
OLAND
,CV-04-04275-SBA
 Defendants-Appellees,
OPINIONT
HE
N
EW
49’
ERS
, I
NC
.; R
AYMOND
W. K
OONS
,
 Defendants-intervenors-Appellees.
Appeal from the United States District Courtfor the Northern District of CaliforniaSaundra B. Armstrong, District Judge, PresidingArgued and SubmittedDecember 13, 2011—San Francisco, CaliforniaFiled June 1, 2012Before: AlexKozinski, Chief Judge, BarryG.Silverman,SusanP.Graber, KimMcLaneWardlaw,WilliamA.Fletcher, RonaldM.Gould, RichardA.Paez,MarshaS.Berzon, MilanD.Smith,Jr., SandraS.Ikuta, andMaryH.Murguia, Circuit Judges.Opinion by Judge William A. Fletcher;Dissent by Judge M. Smith
6067
Case: 05-16801 06/01/2012 ID: 8198039 DktEntry: 125-1 Page: 1 of 58
 
COUNSEL
Roger Flynn and Jeffrey Charles Parsons, WESTERN MIN-ING ACTION PROJECT, Lyons, Colorado, Lynne Saxton,ENVIRONMENTAL LAW FOUNDATION, Oakland, Cali-fornia, James R. Wheaton, PUBLIC INTEREST LAWOFFICE, Oakland, California, for the plaintiff-appellant.Lane N. McFadden and Brian C. Toth, U.S. DEPARTMENTOF JUSTICE, Washington, D.C., Barclay T. Samford, U.S.DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Denver, Colorado, CharlesMichael O’Connor, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATESATTORNEY, San Francisco, California, for the defendants-appellees.Jason Craig Rylander, DEFENDERS OF WILDLIFE, Wash-ington, D.C., for the amicus curiae.
OPINION
W. FLETCHER, Circuit Judge:We consider whether the U.S. Forest Service must consultwith appropriate federal wildlife agencies under Section 7 of 
6071K
ARUK
T
RIBE OF
C
ALIFORNIA
v. USFS
Case: 05-16801 06/01/2012 ID: 8198039 DktEntry: 125-1 Page: 2 of 58
 
the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) before allowing miningactivities to proceed under a Notice of Intent (“NOI”) in criti-cal habitat of a listed species. The ESA requires consultationwith the Fish and Wildlife Service or the NOAA FisheriesService for any “agency action” that “may affect” a listed spe-cies or its critical habitat. 16 U.S.C. §1536(a)(2); 50 C.F.R.§402.14(a). There are two substantive questions before us.The first is whether the Forest Service’s approval of fourNOIs to conduct mining in the Klamath National Forest is“agency action” within the meaning of Section 7. Under ourestablished case law, there is “agency action” whenever anagency makes an affirmative, discretionary decision aboutwhether, or under what conditions, to allow private activity toproceed. The record in this case shows that Forest ServiceDistrict Rangers made affirmative, discretionary decisionsabout whether, and under what conditions, to allow mining toproceed under the NOIs.The second is whether the approved mining activities “mayaffect” a listed species or its critical habitat. Forest Serviceregulations require a NOI for all proposed mining activitiesthat “might cause” disturbance of surface resources, whichinclude fisheries and wildlife habitat. 36 C.F.R. §§228.4(a),228.8(e). In this case, the Forest Service approved miningactivities in and along the Klamath River, which is criticalhabitat for threatened coho salmon. The record shows that themining activities approved under NOIs satisfy the “mayaffect” standard.We therefore hold that the Forest Service violated the ESAby not consulting with the appropriate wildlife agencies
1
before approving NOIs to conduct mining activities in cohosalmon critical habitat within the Klamath National Forest.
1
The parties appear to assume that if consultation is required under Sec-tion 7, it is required with both agencies. Without deciding the question, wealso will so assume.
6072K
ARUK
T
RIBE OF
C
ALIFORNIA
v. USFS
Case: 05-16801 06/01/2012 ID: 8198039 DktEntry: 125-1 Page: 3 of 58

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