South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Environmental Groups Lacked Standing to Challenge Forest Service on River Boundaries
Description Appeals court affirmed that environmental groups did not have standing to sue the Forest Service for failing to complete river management plans as ordered by Congress. The groups failed to show concrete injury that they suffered due to failure to complete the plans.
Topic Environmental Law
Key Words Forest Service; Management Plans; Wild and Scenic Rivers; Standing
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Parts of some Michigan rivers are under the national system of wild and scenic rivers. The Forest Service (USFS) is responsible for establishing river corridor boundaries for rivers in the national forests. Congress told the USFS to have management plans completed within three years, but that did not happen. Environmental groups sued the USFS for failing to fulfill the requirement that it prepare boundary plans. The district court granted summary judgment for the USFS. Environmental groups appealed.

Affirmed. The groups lacked standing to seek enforcement of the USFS’s obligation under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to create management plans and establish boundaries for the rivers. The groups could not establish “concrete injury” needed for standing by generalized allegations that group members’ enjoyment of the rivers had been reduced. Even if group members had been injured by logging and other activities along the rivers in question, absent a showing of causal connection between such injuries and USFS failure to perform its statutory duties, there was no evidence that river boundaries would offer greater protection than the boundaries already established by the Rivers Act.

Citation Center for Biological Diversity v. Lueckel, 417 F.3d 532 (6th Cir., 2005)

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