No. 346, January 18, 2004

LOGGING PLAN ON EIGHT MILLION ACRES OF FEDERAL FOREST IN AZ AND NM STRUCK DOWN TO PROTECT NORTHERN GOSHAWK

   
TIMBER INDUSTRY CHALLENGE TO FOREST PROTECTIONS ON 30 MILLION ACRES SHUT DOWN
   
COURT STRIKES FIRST BLOW TO BUSH’S “HEALTHY FOREST INITIATIVE”- SIERRA NEVADA TIMBER SALE ENJOINED
   
SECOND SIERRA NEVADA TIMBER SALE STOPPED...FOR NOW
   
TONGASS NATIONAL FOREST TIMBER SALES AND TIMBER PROGRAM CHALLENGED

 

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LOGGING PLAN ON EIGHT MILLION ACRES IN AZ AND NM STRUCK DOWN TO PROTECT NORTHERN GOSHAWK

On 11/18/03, the Ninth Circuit Court sided with the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club in striking down a controversial plan guiding logging on eight million acres of federal forest in Arizona and New Mexico. Nominally designed to protect the northern goshawk, the plan allowed continued logging of old growth trees and reduction of forest canopy cover to unsustainable levels. The plan was heavily criticized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the game and fish agencies of Arizona and New Mexico, and U.S. Forest Service biologists. The court ruled that the Forest Service ignored these critiques and failed to consider scientific studies showing that goshawks require mature, dense canopied forests.

The Center has been working to protect goshawks from Alaska to New Mexico for over a decade. We will soon file motions with the court outlining a request to prohibit logging of large trees until a new regional plan is developed. The case was argued by Michael Lozeau of Earthjustice.

Learn more about our campaign to protect goshawks.
Learn more about the Center's Ancient Forests program.


TIMBER INDUSTRY CHALLENGE TO FOREST PROTECTIONS ON 30 MILLION ACRES SHUT DOWN

The U.S. Forest Service has rejected five petitions by the timber industry to strike old growth forest protections for the northern goshawk on 30 million acres of forest in New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, South Dakota, and Alaska. The Forest Service developed landscape level forest protection guidelines for the goshawk in these areas in response to the Center for Biological Diversity’s efforts to have goshawk listed as an endangered species in western North America.

In January 2003, the timber industry filed petitions under the Quality of Information Act requesting that the protections be struck down. While ostensibly designed to ensure that information distributed by the U.S. Government is accurate, the Quality of Information Act has been used by industry groups to attack environmental and human health regulations. The Center, Sitka Conservation Society, Alaska Center for the Environment, Alaska Chapter of the Sierra Club, Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, Southwest Forest Alliance, Forest Guardians, Center for Native Ecosystems, Maricopa Audubon Society, and White Mountain Conservation League intervened in the process, rebutting the factual claims and the intent of the timber industry petitions.

Learn more about the Center's Ancient Forests program.


COURT STRIKES FIRST BLOW TO BUSH’S “HEALTHY FOREST INITIATIVE”- SIERRA NEVADA TIMBER SALE ENJOINED

On 12-11-03, a federal judge ordered the U.S. Forest Service to cease logging on the Burnt Ridge timber sale in the Sequoia National Forest. The sale would have logged 1.6 million board feet of trees within a designated old-growth area and push the imperiled Pacific fisher and the California spotted owl closer to extinction. Despite the Bush administrations rhetoric about thinning small trees to reduce fire hazards, the Burnt Ridge sale only included trees larger than ten inches in diameter.

Responding to a suit brought by Center for Biological Diversity, the John Muir Project, Sierra Club, Heartwood, and Sequoia Forestkeeper, the judge ruled that the timber sale would likely harm the California spotted owl and the Pacific fisher, and that it would likely require a full environmental review rather being exempted from review as the Bush administration urged.

The ruling is a major setback to the Bush administration’s so-called “Healthy Forest Initiative,” a systematic effort to restrict citizen participation and roll back environmental laws. A critical aspect of the initiative is abolishing the public's right to comment on and appeal any timber sale characterized as "fuel hazard reduction" or "salvage." The regulations also permit the Forest Service to exempt "emergency" timber sales from appeal, and to simply ignore appeals that are filed.

This suit is the first to challenge the policy of exempting “small” timber sales from environmental review. The logging ban will remain in effect until a federal judge makes a final decision on the case. The lawsuit was argued by Rachel Fazio of the John Muir Project.

Learn more about the Center's Ancient Forests program.
Learn more about the Center's Goldenstate Biodiversity Initiative.


SECOND SIERRA NEVADA TIMBER SALE STOPPED...FOR NOW

On 12-11-03, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the U.S. Forest Service to cease logging on the 1,700 acre Star Fire Timber Sale on the Eldorado National Forest. Ignoring scientific research published in a peer-reviewed journal by Center for Biological Diversity biologist Monica Bond, the Forest Service exempted itself from logging restrictions in two California spotted owl habitat areas. The agency claimed that a forest fire rendered the forest unsuitable to owls and thus could be logged. Bond, however, studied owls on the Eldorado National Forest for three years before publishing a scientific article demonstrating that spotted owls continue to use burned forests.

The court found that the Bush administration likely violated a Clinton-era landscape conservation plan called the Sierra Framework because it allowed logging to occur within areas occupied by California spotted owls, and failed to consider the cumulative impact all timber sales in the area. Though the Bush administration justified not listing the California spotted owl under the Endangered Species Act because of the supposed protections of the Sierra Nevada Framework, it has refused to implement the Framework, and has begun the process of dismantling it.

The suit was brought by the Center for Biological Diversity and the John Muir Project. It was argued by Rachel Fazio of the John Muir Project. The logging ban will remain in effect until a federal judge makes a final decision on the case.

Learn more about the Center's Ancient Forests program.
Learn more about the Center's Goldenstate Biodiversity Initiative.


TONGASS NATIONAL FOREST TIMBER SALES AND TIMBER PROGRAM CHALLENGED

On 12-10-03 the Center for Biological Diversity and a coalition of environmental groups filed suit challenging the Tongass National Forest Land Management Plan and six timber sales which have targeted roadless areas in the nation’s largest and wildest National Forest. The Forest Service failed to heed the findings of government science panels showing that wildlife populations would be put at risk by high levels of clearcut logging. Its plans put at risk hundreds of thousands of acres of pristine forest even though market demand for Tongass timber is at an all time low. The Forest Service also fail to disclose the cost to taxpayers of the massively subsidized logging plans.

Lawyers from Earthjustice and Natural Resources Defense Council are representing the Center for Biological Diversity, Natural Resources Defense Council, Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society, and the National Audubon Society.

Learn more about the Center's Ancient Forests program.
Learn more about the Center's Alaska campaign.


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