Bulletin staff report

A federal appeals court will not rehear a lawsuit two environmental groups filed against the U.S. Forest Service and the City of Bend over Bend’s Bridge Creek water pipeline.

Central Oregon LandWatch and WaterWatch of Oregon asked for a rehearing in October, arguing that federal judges broke with their own precedent in ruling that the Forest Service did enough to investigate alternatives that would divert less water from Bridge Creek. The pipeline under Skyliners Road, completed in 2015, diverts up to 18.2 cubic feet per second.

None of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ 29 judges requested a vote on a rehearing, according to a court order filed Friday morning. From here, the two groups can only appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

A voicemail left at Central Oregon LandWatch was not immediately returned Friday, but executive director Paul Dewey previously told The Bulletin he wouldn’t rule out an appeal to the Supreme Court.

LandWatch would have 90 days to petition the Supreme Court. The high court accepts only a small minority of the thousands of petitions it receives each year.

The city of Bend spent $746,000 on legal fees defending the pipeline project since the lawsuit began four years ago.

18638708