California Attorney General, Environmental Groups Win Protections for Sierra Backcountry
May 26, 2011
On May 26, 2011 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an injunction against multiple timber projects poised to log pristine Sierra backcountry areas, and remanded the case to the lower court for further proceedings.
In 2005, the State of California and a coalition of environmental groups filed back-to-back legal actions against the Forest Service, saying the agency violated the law when revising the 2001 Sierra Nevada Framework, a broadly supported management plan for eleven national forests in California. The revised plan quadrupled the amount of logging across the Sierra range, and shifted fire prevention resources away from communities.
Sierra Club Legal Director Pat Gallagher endorsed the court’s action, saying, “The threat of climate change makes it doubly imperative that we protect wildlife like the Pacific fisher and many types of birds from destructive logging in the Sierra Nevada forests. We have always prosecuted this case to protect the health of the Sierra Nevada forests and our natural heritage, and will continue to advocate for the fullest protection of the Sierra Nevada and its imperiled wildlife.”
The Forest Service approved the original Sierra Nevada Forest Plan Amendment in January 2001, to direct the management of 11.5 million acres of California’s national forest lands. The original plan was never implemented, and in January 2004, the Forest Service, under the Bush Administration, announced revisions to increase the amount of logging and limit protections for forests, water and wildlife throughout the Sierra.
“After this victory […] we are looking forward to working with the Obama Administration to create healthy and resilient forests in Sierra Nevada,” said Craig Thomas, Executive Director of Sierra Forest Legacy. “We are hoping the Obama Administration will issue a balanced plan that resembles the original framework, which protected communities, at-risk wildlife, clean drinking water, and what remains of the Sierra Nevada ancient forests.”
Sierra Forest Legacy, Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Center for Biological Diversity, and The Wilderness Society are represented by Earthjustice and the Sierra Club Environmental Law Program.
September 5, 2010
Sierra Club, as part of a coalition of environmental groups, achieved an important legal victory for California's forests and wildlife when, on August 31, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled to stop logging from proceeding under an inadequate forest management plan in the Sierra Nevada. The Circuit Judges enjoined logging in the Empire, Basin and Slapjack Projects, which threaten over 10,000 acres within the Plumas National Forest in the northern Sierra Nevada.
Sierra Club and its allies are challenging the U.S. Forest Service's 2004 Sierra Nevada Framework, a forest management plan that favors commercial logging at the expense of protecting old forest habitats. The Sierra Nevada provides high quality habitat for imperiled California species, such as the spotted owl and Pacific fisher, and the 2004 framework fails to take a hard look at the plan’s adverse habitat and wildlife impacts or ensure that viable populations of imperiled species will be maintained, in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act and National Forest Management Act. The U.S. Forest Service approved the Empire, Basin and Slapjack Projects under the 2004 framework.
Under the Circuit Judges' decision, the Forest Service must act under the 2001 Sierra Nevada Framework, a comprehensive plan that affords better protections to old forest ecosystems, pending the environmental groups' appeal of the 2004 framework. This decision represents a significant win in an ongoing fight, and Sierra Club and its allies will continue their efforts to protect the Plumas National Forest and its wildlife from destructive logging.
Details and Documents:
Sierra Nevada Framework Opinion
May 26, 2011, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
See other "Promoting Resilient Habitats" cases.