I. Preamble

A. On February 25, 1988, the Regional Forester for the Pacific Southwest Region of the United States Forest Service made a decision to adopt a Land and Resource Management Plan ("Forest Plan," 'Plan," or "LMP") for the Sequoia National Forest. His decision was based on a Final Environmental Impact Statement ("EIS") on the proposed Plan and was explained in a Record of Decision "ROD").

 

B. Numerous parties appealed the decision, challenging the Plan and/or the EIS on many grounds. The appellants represent a very wide range of interests and a wide range of forest users. The appellants in each appeal are identified in Exhibit A to this Agreement. The appellants filed their various Statements of Reasons by July 20, 1988. The Forest Service filed its Responsive Statements by March 8, 1989. All appeals not otherwise disposed of were then extended pending the outcome of mediated negotiation.

 

C. During the fall of 1988, the Forest Service entered into an agreement with the

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California Department of Fish and Game ("DFG") to settle its appeal, No. 2403. That agreement is set forth in a letter from James A. Crates, Forest Supervisor, to George Nokes, Regional Manager, DFG, dated November 15, 1988 (Exhibit B). Thee issues raised by DFG were also raised by incorporation in Appeal No. 2332. The terms of Exhibit B, therefore, are incorporated by this reference into this Agreement. Where any more stringent requirements are imposed by this Agreement, they will prevail over the terms of Exhibit B.

 

D. In December, 1988, the Forest Service hired Ms. Alana Knaster of the Mediation Institute to meet with the Forest Service and the various appellants to make a recommendation on whether the parties should attempt to negotiate a settlement and, if negotiations proceeded, to serve as mediator. During January and February, 1989, Ms. Knaster met with the Forest Service and the appellants and recommended that negotiations ensue. Subsequently, the Forest Service and appellants that chose to participate in the negotiations agreed upon Protocols to govern the proceedings. The Protocols are incorporated by reference into this agreement attached hereto as Exhibit C. Where any more stringent requirements are imposed by this Agreement, they will prevail over the terms of Exhibit C.

 

E. Between March, 1989 and June, 1990, the parties spent many days in face-to-face discussion and negotiation over issues raised in the appeals and an

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enormous number of additional hours developing and discussing proposed solutions to identified problems. Many of those solutions require that information presently lacking be gathered and utilized, both to check the validity of Plan assumptions and to refine the Plan over time. The parties, therefore, decided to settle the Plan appeals by (1) presently disposing of some issues on the merits; and (2) setting up processes for developing needed information, monitoring Plan implementation, and addressing other issues over time.

 

F. The parties have differing views on many legal and factual issues raised in the appeals. A party's consent to this compromise agreement does not imply such party's concurrence in any particular interpretation of law or fact, except as otherwise expressly stated in this Agreement.

 

G. The parties concur that this Agreement binds them only as provided herein.The parties enter into this Agreement pursuant to compromise because of the unique factual circumstances in the Sequoia National Forest and in settlement of disputed claims to avoid prolonged and complicated litigation and to further the public interest. The parties concur that this Agreement applies solely to the issues raised in administrative appeals of the Land Management Plan for the Sequoia National Forest. This Agreement terminates at such time as the Plan is revised in accordance with 36 C.F.R. 219.10(g).

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H. In the interim period between signing this Agreement and finalizing an amendment incorporating this Agreement into the Plan, the Parties agree that the provisions of this Agreement shall be implemented according to the schedules indicated throughout this document. Such interim action conforms to NEPA direction that, until a record of decision is issued, the agency must not limit the range of choice [40 CFR 1506.1(a)(2)). Continuing implementation of the Plan as is would destroy the option of implementing some of the provisions of the Agreement; therefore, the Parties agree to this interim direction. The Forest Service anticipates that the NEPA process, including preparation of amendments and an EIS, may take up to two years.

 

I. Throughout this Agreement, the Forest Service has agreed to perform certain tasks by specified dates or time periods. All parties contemplate that these deadlines are reasonable and that the Forest Service shall adhere to the deadlines. The parties recognize, however, that events arising from causes beyond the reasonable control of the Forest Service despite the due diligence and good faith efforts of the Forest Service may preclude the Forest Service from completing the specified task by the specified deadline. In such an event, the Forest Service shall, within 21 days of the specified deadline, notify all parties of its inability to complete the task within the specified time, the reasons for that inability, and the date by which the task shall be completed. Any party may challenge in court either the failure to complete the task by the specified

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date or the new date set forth by the Forest Service for completion of the task. If such a challenge is made, the burden of proof shall be on the Forest Service to show that the failure to complete the task by the specified date was based on events arising from causes beyond the reasonable control of the Forest Service despite due diligence and good faith efforts and that the new date for completion is reasonable. Any cause of action contemplated by this paragraph arises only for the parties to this Agreement. The parties also contemplate that the existence of litigation against the Sequoia National Forest shall not be precluded from consideration as an event arising from causes beyond the reasonable control of the Forest Service.

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