Series of Wins for Democracy in the National Forests
October 2, 2005
A Bush administration blame game recently backfired, and mushroom pickers and Christmas tree cutters are now free to use the national forests. In his second ruling siding with conservationists and the American people, Judge Singleton ruled that the Bush administration was improperly implementing the court’s previous decision on public input on potentially harmful activities such as timber sales, oil and gas development, and creation of new motorized trail routes. However, the administration took the issue much further and issued a ban on all projects, including minor cases like firewood and mushroom gathering. The Forest Service’s overreaction ignored legal precedent and sought to create a public backlash against the Court’s decision and conservation groups’ claims that the public has a right to be involved in government actions. Read more about the controversial administration policy in our press releases below.
September 23, 2005
In a dramatic political play, the Forest Service has issued a nationwide directive halting all minor projects in our National Forests following a recent ruling issued by Judge Singleton. Although the decision clearly stated that requiring public input did not apply to every minor project, the Forest Service chose instead to target many common and noncontroversial uses of our nation’s forests including mushroom hunting, backcountry excursions, and even the harvesting of the national Christmas tree in New Mexico. Sierra Club is now urging the Bush administration to stop playing politics with the management of our forests, and will join other conservation groups to ask for clarification on the court’s decision once more.
September 16, 2005
Unsatisfied with the July ruling which threw out several anti-democratic Forest Service rules, the Bush administration went back to the court to argue that the decision should only apply to eastern California. Fortunately, the judge disagreed and the Forest Service has now been ordered to stop bypassing environmental laws nationwide. The nationwide application of the decision is wonderful news for our forests and will guarantee that the public has the opportunity to review and comment on timber projects before logging begins. The administration has now appealed the whole case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Check back for further updates.
July 7, 2005
On July 7, 2005, federal judge James Singleton threw out a host of anti-democratic rules enacted by the Bush administration, relating to public participation in Forest Service logging decisions. The decision is a major victory for citizens who care about the health of our national forests, and helps counteract the administration's misleadingly-named "Healthy Forests Initiative."
The administration adopted new rules in 2003 severely restricting the public's right to comment on and appeal a broad range of logging projects, including those that were "categorically excluded" from environmental review by another one of the administration's anti-democratic rules. Ruling on a lawsuit brought by the Sierra Club and its coalition partners, the judge decided that the rules were "manifestly contrary" to the 1992 Appeals Reform Act, a law passed by Congress affirming the public's right to participate in decisions affecting our national forests.
Special thanks to Matt Kenna of the Western Environmental Law Center and his client Heartwood for their assistance in this case.
October 1, 2003
In June 2003, the Forest Service adopted new regulations as part of the Bush Administration’s “Healthy Forest Initiative.” These new regulations are designed to make it much harder for citizens to appeal Forest Service decisions, including logging projects of up to 1,000 acres. Additionally, salvage logging and other destructive projects will be allowed to proceed even while appeals are pending, forcing citizens to rush to court for temporary injunctions to prevent their appeals from being rendered meaningless. The Sierra Club has filed a lawsuit centered on the Sequoia National Forest to challenge this latest piece of the Bush Administration’s logging extravaganza.
Details and Documents:
Editorial: Forest Service Sulk
October 24, 2005, Washington Post
Court Tells Forest Service to Obey the Law, Protect Public’s Rights
October 20, 2005, Sierra Club Press Release
National Conservation Groups Ask Bush Administration to Stop Creating Controversy Over America’s National Forests
October 19, 2005, Sierra Club Press Release
September 2005 - District Court for the Eastern District of California
July 2005 - District Court for the Eastern District of California
See other "Promoting Resilient Habitats" cases.