and bearing on the proposed action or its impacts. 40 C.F.R. 1502.9(c)(1) (1991). However, the regulations make no reference whatsoever to the issue of supplementing environmental assessments.
The Court notes that the Forest Service apparently did consider whether it was necessary to supplement the environmental assessment and issue a new decision document. However, the agency ultimately decided that this action was unnecessary because the terms of the revised sale fell within the parameters of the project as originally authorized. More specifically, the 1990 decision notice and environmental assessment were based upon the harvest of 265 acres of timber through the group selection method. The revised sale provided for the same acreage, but merely changed the size of the timber cuts, allowing cuts of up to only .6 acre in size, as compared with the original two-acre cuts.
Because the revised project fell within the parameters of the original project, the Forest Service decided that the original environmental assessment adequately addressed the environmental impacts of the project and no supplementation or further decision document was necessary.
Under the facts and circumstances described above, the Court agrees that the Forest Service did not violate the law by proceeding with the revised timber sale without giving additional public notice. The Court shares the plaintiff's concern about the environmental effects of logging in the Shawnee National Forest. However, the facts show that the Forest Service sufficiently considered these effects when it issued its decision to proceed with the timber sale in 1990.
Although the Forest Service subsequently revised the plan, the record indicates that the changes were intended to have beneficial, rather than adverse, environmental consequences. In a letter that was read into the Congressional Record, Congressman Glenn Poshard described the new "gap-phase dynamics" harvesting techniques as a "more advanced and ecologically sensitive" method of harvestation. 137 Cong. Rec. S13260, S13274 (1991). Therefore, when the Forest Service remarked the Whoopie Cat timber sale to allow for timber cuts of .6 acre or smaller, the project would have less of an environmental impact than originally envisioned. Cf. Cronin v. United States Dep't of Agric., 919 F.2d 439, 448 (7th Cir. 1990) (agency's decision to implement group selection techniques would have less environmental impact than original plan providing for clearcutting). Accordingly, the Forest Service was not required to supplement the environmental assessment or issue a new decision notice before proceeeding with the sale.
The Court's discussion of these legal issues shows that the plaintiff would not prevail on the merits of his lawsuit and, therefore, the request for a preliminary injunction must be denied. Based upon the analysis above, the Court further finds it appropriate to consolidate the hearing on the motion for preliminary injunction with the trial on the merits, as provided in Rule 65(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. As a result, the Court orders this case dismissed with respect to the plaintiffs request for a permanent injunction against the Whoopie Cat Hardwood Sale.
For the foregoing reasons, the Court hereby DENIES the plaintiffs Motion for Preliminary Injunction (Document No. 5). In addition, the Court CONSOLIDATES the hearing on the motion for preliminary injunction with the trial on the merits, as provided in Rule 65(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and ORDERS the plaintiffs claim DISMISSED with respect to the Whoopie Cat Hardwood Sale. Further proceedings will he scheduled in due course with respect to the plaintiffs remaining claim involving Opportunity Area 6.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
James L. Foreman
SENIOR DISTRICT JUDGE