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The lawsuit was brought in 2006 by the Sierra Club and other preservation interests, largely contending the Forest failed to sufficiently analyze potential impacts to the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area. Those claims were rejected in the U.S. District of Minnesota by District Judge Patrick J. Schiltz, who ruled in favor of the Forest Service and intervenors, concluding the agency had not acted improperly in adopting the broad prescriptions of the Revised Forest Plan. The appeal was argued on February 9, 2010, and in a decision released October 18, 2010, the Circuit Court affirmed.
"It is reassuring to see an appellate court properly recognize the role of a forest plan and follow established administrative law in deferring to the agency's exercise of discretion," observed Paul Turcke, the Boise, Idaho lawyer who represented the Recreation Groups. "Opinions about effective recreation management are as diverse as public land visitors, and none of us are entitled to substitute our vision for the agency's so long as it appropriately considered public input and rationally interpreted the record before it," Turcke concluded.
In addition to the Recreation Groups, other parties to the litigation supporting the Forest Service included the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; Lake County, Minnesota; Minnesota Forest Industries and Minnesota Timber Producers; and the Ruffed Grouse Society.
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The BlueRibbon Coalition is a national recreation group that champions responsible recreation, and encourages individual environmental stewardship. It represents over 10,000 individual members and 1,200 organization and business members, for a combined total of over 600,000 recreationists nationwide. 1-800-258-3742. www.sharetrails.org
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