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Legal wrangling: PEIS, wolves, South Fowl

If you’re keeping score at home, here’s some updates on the legal issues in the area.
Wolves: Back in court.
South Fowl: Out of court. For now.
Here’s a breakdown on what that means.
The Friends of the Boundary Waters, Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness, Sustainable Ely and one Becky Rom of Ely had been pushing for a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for the Superior National Forest relating to the possible copper-nickel mining projects.
This was seen as a “stealth” attack on mining and it took some sleuthing to determine Rom was the one pushing for the feds to do a PEIS. That push has come to a sudden halt.
U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan told the Mesabi Daily News that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has determined a PEIS will not be necessary.
Hopefully that puts that end-around play to rest.
Next up: wolves. In December of 2011 the gray wolf was taken off the endangered species list and management was turned over to the state in Minnesota. This decision was overturned in a recent federal court decision out in D.C.
Federal agencies have made an announcement on this one. While the chances of an appeal of a court decision to take control away from the state of Minnesota may be slim and none, the feds are going to appeal.
“Notice is hereby given that the U.S. Department of the Interior, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and S.M.R. Jewell, Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, Federal Defendants in the above-named case (The Humane Society Of The United States vs. U.S.A.), appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit from the Court’s December 19, 2014 Opinion.”
Will this put wolves back under state control? That’s up to the Court of Appeals to decide. But remember where this is being decided. Not in Minnesota where there are wolves, but in Washington D.C.
Nolan has apparently had enough on this one as well. He’s given notice he will co-sponsor a bill along with Rep. Reid Ribble, R-WI and Collin Peterson, D-MN. The bill would restore wolves to their unprotected status in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Wyoming. Boom.
That may be the only hope to getting common sense back into wolf management. Legislation will hopefully trump the merry-go-round of court cases filed by groups like the Humane Society.
Finally, a decision was released that will allow the South Fowl snowmobile trail between McFarland and South Fowl lakes in Hovland. This has been an eight-year legal battle between the Forest Service and the Sierra Club/NEMW. Locally based Conservationists With Common Sense also joined the case with the USFS.
The Sierra Club’s argument was that the trail near the BWCA “would project the sounds of snowmobiles into the wilderness area.” But the court found that there is already noise being heard inside the BWCA and that “Ultimately, the most any wilderness visitor will hear…is sound equivalent to moderate rainfall. More importantly, that impact will only occur in a small portion of the affected wilderness. Indeed, in an area that has been surrounded by snowmobile and other motorized traffic since the time it was designated as wilderness.”
So, chalk up the current status of PEIS, wolves and South Fowl as over, ongoing and hopefully resolved.
All of this just makes us wonder if there is ever going to be a time when people can find a way to get along and resolve differences amicably without resorting to drawn out court battles and backroom politics.
We’d like to think that can happen.

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