Court Dismisses Suit For Failure To Strictly Comply With 60-Day Notice Requirement

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In Klamath Siskyou Wildlands Center v. MacWhorter, 1:12-cv-1900 (pdf), the United States District Court for the District of Oregon granted a motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ suit alleging that the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by allowing suction dredge placer mining in the Rogue River-Siskyou National Forest without consulting with federal wildlife agencies about potential effects on coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) and coho salmon critical habitat.  In dismissing the case, the court held that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the matter because plaintiffs’ notice of intent to file the action failed to comply with the ESA’s notice requirements.  Noting that the purpose of the ESA’s 60-day notice requirement is to alert the government of alleged violations so that they may be resolved without litigation, the court held that plaintiffs’ notice failed to fulfill that purpose.  Specifically, the court held that plaintiffs did not sufficiently inform USFS of the specific alleged violations that they later asserted in their complaint.  Plaintiffs’ failure to strictly comply with the notice requirement was an absolute bar to their subsequent action.  The court’s holding emphasizes the importance of strict compliance with the 60-day notice requirement prior to challenging alleged violations of the ESA.