On November 9, 2015, oral arguments were heard by Judge Ann Aiken in her courtroom at the U.S. Courthouse, Portland, Ore.
Oliver Stiefel, of the CRAG Law Center, was lead counsel. There are four plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service; The Sierra Club, Bark, NW Environmental Defense Center, and Friends of Mount Hood.
Chris Winter, co-counsel and FOMH board director, provided his analysis of the hearing for FOMH, which appears here in an edited version:
The hearing yesterday went very well in my estimation. Oliver delivered a very well-organized and effective argument for Judge Aiken, and she indicated on at least three occasions that she was leaning our way on particular issues, especially the Western Bumblebee claim, the ESA claim against the biological opinion on the LCR steelhead, and the failure to supplement the NEPA documents on LCR steelhead.
All in all, given the long and convoluted history of this case, the argument was definitely a high point in the work. Oliver deserves many congratulations, as this was his first argument in federal court, and he clearly impressed the judge and stole the spotlight. While it is impossible to predict the outcome, we are cautiously optimistic and will of course let you know as soon as we get an opinion.
Thank you Dennis, Lou and Phyllis for attending the hearing. We always appreciate having clients at the hearing with us when we present their case…I don’t believe that FOMH’s history of public interest advocacy was lost on Judge Aiken.
We are not able to estimate when the court will return with its ruling. However, Judge Aiken did indict that she intends to make her ruling in a timely fashion.
It cannot be emphasized enough that this lawsuit, and the other efforts made by FOMH to defend the natural wonders of Mount Hood, could not have happened without the donations made by the supporters of FOMH. Thank you very much for your many years of support!