United States District Court, D. Oregon, Pendleton Division
GREATER HELLS CANYON COUNCIL, an Oregon nonprofit corporation, and OREGON WILD, an Oregon nonprofit corporation, Plaintiffs,
DISTRICT RANGER KRIS STEIN, in her official capacity as District Ranger of the Eagle Cap Ranger District, Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, and UNITED STATES FOREST SERVICE, an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture, Defendants, and WALLOWA COUNTY, a political subdivision of the State of Oregon, Defendant-Intervenor.
OPINION AND ORDER
PATRICIA SULLIVAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Greater Hells Canyon Council and Oregon Wild bring this action
to challenge the approval of the Lostine Public Safety
Project (the “Lostine Project”) by defendants
U.S. Forest Service and District Ranger Kris Stein (the
“federal defendants”). Compl. (Docket No. 1).
Wallowa County (the “County”) filed a Motion to
Intervene, which the Court granted. (Docket Nos. 9, 12). The
American Forest Resource Council (“AFRC”) moves
to appear as amicus curiae. (Docket No. 40). Plaintiffs
oppose. (Docket No. 41). The federal defendants take no
position on AFRC's Motion, and the County does not
oppose. Amicus Mot., at 1 (Docket No. 40). For the following
reasons, the Court GRANTS AFRC's Motion to Appear as
district court has broad discretion to appoint amici
curiae.” Hoptowit v. Ray, 682 F.2d 1237, 1260
(9th Cir. 1982), overruled on other grounds by Sandin v.
Conner, 515 U.S. 472, (1995). The “classic role of
amicus curiae” is “assisting in a case of general
public interest, supplementing the efforts of counsel, and
drawing the court's attention to law that escaped
consideration.” Miller-Wohl Co. v. Comm'r of
Labor & Indus. State of Mont., 694 F.2d 203, 204
(9th Cir. 1982). “[T]here is no rule that amici must be
totally disinterested.” Funbus Sys., Inc. v. Cal.
Pub. Utils. Comm'n., 801 F.2d 1120, 1125 (9th Cir.
a regional trade associate representing forest product
businesses and forest landowners, which advocates for
sustained yield timber harvests of public lands, and
advocates on federal and state law, regulation, and policy.
Joseph Decl. ¶ 3 (Docket No. 40-2). An AFRC member
participated in the Forest Service's formulation and
approval of the Project. Id. ¶ 7. AFRC's
proposed brief addresses three issues: (1) whether the
Project was developed under the type of collaborative process
that the 2014 Farm Bill amendments to the Healthy Forest
Restoration Act (the “Farm Bill”), 16 U.S.C.
§ 6591a et seq., require; (2) whether the Farm
Bill requires defendants to assess whether
“extraordinary circumstances” exist in order to
apply a categorical exemption from review under the National
Environmental Policy Act; and (3) whether defendants
reasonably interpreted the Lostine River Wilderness and
Scenic River Management Plan (the “River Plan”)
in authorizing the forestry techniques allowed under the
Project. (Docket No. 40-1).
argue that AFRC's proposed arguments as amicus are
inappropriate because AFRC is an interested party, because it
does not offer novel factual or legal analysis not already
adequately represented by the parties, because factual issues
as well as legal issues predominate, and because its brief
unfairly burdens plaintiffs with additional arguments to
respond to in the same amount of briefing. (Docket No. 41).
reviewed AFRC's proposed briefing, the Court finds that
it is partially, though not entirely, duplicative of the
federal defendant's and County's arguments, and does
provide useful additional analysis of the process leading to
approval of the Lostine Project, of the proper interpretation
of the Farm Bill, and of the River Plan and the forestry
techniques at issue. AFRC is a proper entity to appear as
amicus, and its arguments largely are properly raised by
Court is mindful of plaintiffs' concerns and of the
additional demand that further argument adds to this
matter's already considerable briefing. Accordingly,
AFRC's participation as amicus will be limited to its
already-filed proposed briefing (Docket No. 40-1), and shall
not include response or reply briefing. AFRC shall not
present oral argument on the parties' Motions for Summary
Judgment. See, e.g., Fed. R. App. P. 29(a)(8)
(“An amicus curiae may participate in oral argument
only with the court's permission.”); 9th Circuit
Rule 29-1 (“No reply brief of an amicus curiae will be
permitted.”). AFRC assents to these limitations.
See Amicus Reply, at 1 (Docket No. 44).
these reasons, the Court GRANTS the American Forest Resource
Council's Motion for Leave to File Amicus Curiae Brief
(Docket No. 40), subject to the limitations contained in this
Opinion and Order.