On June 6th, US District Court Magistrate Judge David West issued a recommendation to extend the Preliminary Injunction (PI) that has held the proposed “Village” at Wolf Creek at a standstill since last fall. The earlier injunction, which the Court entered November 20, 2006, was set to expire on June 15th. Specifically, the Magistrate Judge recommended that Senior U.S. District Court Judge John Kane continue the PI until a final decision can be reached on the lawsuit (which could occur sometime in late 2007).
The Magistrate Judge’s recommendations identify a number of potential flaws with the Forest Service’s access decision that warrant careful consideration by the Court before allowing any ground disturbing activities to proceed. We are grateful that the Court has taken the time to review our concerns and consider what is at stake. The Judge’s recommendations are both thoughtful and thorough. Even after our years of work on this issue, the closer one looks at the Forest Service’s Environmental Impact Statement and the circumstances surrounding its development, the more alarming this whole matter becomes.
The Forest Service claims it made an informed decision, but seems to have no idea what was going on behind its back.
The Judge’s recommendations describe an agreement where “Tetra Tech was to serve under the direct supervision of the U.S.F.S. to prepare an environmental analysis for the U.S.F.S.” and which barred most communications between the Developer and the government contractor developing the EIS–Tetra Tech. During litigation, thousands of pages of communications have emerged that show Tetra Tech Director Dr. Mark Blauer and Developer Bob Honts in regular communications about how to get the Forest Service to “see the light” and ignore the impacts of the Village in the EIS. Eventually, the Forest Service gave up on its earlier commitments and caved in to the pressure from the developer.
Dr. Blauer and Bob Honts even discussed the developer getting tickets to NFL Football games for those on Tetra Tech staff that put their “heart and soul” into the EIS.
After a 10 day objection period, Judge Kane will issue and order based on Magistrate Judge West’s recommendations.
Obviously, this is a huge victory for the public. We are hopeful that Judge Kane will adopt Magistrate Judge West’s recommendations, and ensure that no construction occurs on the Village until a final decision is reached in this case.