May 20, 2024

Earthrise legal fellow argues before the Western District of Arkansas

Lydia’s argument to protect stretches of the Ozark-St. Francis National Forests is a culmination of her work as a summer clerk, clinic student, and now a fellow.

Last Monday, Legal Fellow Lydia Dexter argued on behalf of our client, Buffalo River Watershed Alliance (BRWA), in the Western District of Arkansas to address the Forest Service’s failures to adequately examine the environmental impacts of the Robert’s Gap Project on the Buffalo National River and the endangered Indiana bat. The Forest Service authorized the Robert’s Gap Project, a nearly 40,000-acre logging, prescribed burning, herbicide, and road construction project in the Ozark-St. Francis National Forests, without collecting any baseline water quality data, despite the porous karst hydrogeology of the Project area which can lead to pollutants traveling to the nearby Buffalo National River, the first congressionally designated national river and a Wild and Scenic River, known for its especially pristine waters. Additionally, after completing its environmental analysis, the Forest Service discovered the first endangered Indiana bat maternity colony in the Project area and Ozark-St. Francis National Forests in general, spanning more than 1.2 million acres of land. Because of these failures, Earthrise argued on behalf of BRWA that the Forest Service is required to conduct additional, public environmental analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act.


This case is especially important to Lydia, as it was the first case she was ever assigned to at Earthrise when she began as a law clerk in the summer of 2022. Lydia had the opportunity to work on this case throughout her time as a law clerk, continuing through her time as a clinic student, and ultimately having the opportunity to brief and argue summary judgment as a Legal Fellow.