silver city, tucson, phoenix, san diego


On July 25, 1997 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an
emergency injunction barring the Forest Service from approving
new timber sales and grazing leases which violate eleven recently
amended National Forest Plans. Even more significantly, the court
enjoined all ongoing projects which violate the amended Forest
Plans, including contracted timber sales and grazing allotments. Up
to 25 timber sales, and 400 hundreds of grazing allotments could
be affected.

The injunction will remain in place until the Appeals Court makes
a final decision as to whether the Forest Service must revise
ongoing projects to make them consistent with all aspects of the
newly amended Forest Plans.

   Background- Spotted Owl
In 1989, Robin Silver, Conservation Chairman of the Southwest
Center, filed a petition to list the Mexican spotted owl as an
endangered species. In 1993 it was listed as threatened. In 1994,
the Southwest Center and Forest Guardians filed suit to force
designation of Critical Habitat. In 1995, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service was forced to designate 4.6 million acres of critical habitat
on the Southwest's eleven National Forests.

Also in 1995, the Southwest Center and Forest Guardians sued the
Forest Service for failing to consult on the effects of the eleven
regional Forest Plans on the spotted owl. Just days after the
Logging Without Laws rider was passed, a District Court enjoined
all timber sales on all AZ and NM National Forests until the
USFWS issued a biological opinion on the effects of logging on
the threatened Mexican spotted owl. The biological opinion took
16 months to complete, effectively shielding against the SW
against most salvage rider sales.

The biological opinion determined that the Forest Service could
not continue to implement the Forest Plans because they were
jeopardizing the spotted owl.  The Forest Service, therefore,
amended all eleven plans in June 1996, to incorporate the Mexican
Spotted Owl Recovery Plan. The amendments also finalized a
conservation plan for the Northern and Apache goshawks.

   Background- Goshawk
In 1992, the Southwest Center petitioned to list the goshawk
(including the Apache and Northern subspecies) as endangered in
the western U.S.. The Fish and Wildlife Service twice refused to
list the goshawk as endangered in the West, based on technical
taxonomic arguments. Twice, a federal judge ruled that the denials
were illegal. A third, and hopefully final 90-day finding is due in

The Forest Service, meanwhile, in an effort to head off the listing,
adopted a series of "interim" goshawk conservation plans. Because
they were supposedly interim, the plans were implemented without
an EIS. In 1995, Forest Conservation Council and the Southwest
Center sued to force an EIS. To escape the inevitable, the Forest
Service did an EIS on the goshawk, simultaneously amending the
region's eleven National Forest Plans to include the goshawk plan
and the spotted owl plan.

   How This Injunction Came About
Though the Fish and Wildlife Service declared that the old Forest
Plans must be amended because continued logging and grazing will
jeopardize the Mexican spotted owl, the Forest Service grandfathered
in all ongoing logging and grazing, making them
exempt from the added protections of the newly revised plans.

In September, 1996, Forest Guardians and the Southwest Center
sued the Forest Service, arguing that the National Forest
Management Act requires that all ongoing projects (including
timber sales and grazing allotments) must be updated to comply
with all aspects of newly amended Forest Plans. The district court
judge did not act on our Preliminary Injunction request, we
appealed to the Ninth Circuit, winning an injunction against 18
timber sales on May, 30, 1997.

On July 14, 1997, the district court ruled against us, and the Forest
Service moved to have the Appeals Court lift its injunction. We
responded with an appeal and a request for an emergency
injunction.. On July 25, 1997, the appeals court simultaneously
lifted the Preliminary Injunction and handed down a new
emergency injunction which will remain in place until a final
decision is made on the appeal.


Kieran Suckling                     
Executive Director                            520.623.5252 phone
Southwest Center for Biological Diversity     520.623.9797 fax      pob 710, tucson, az 85702-710