Three strikes for the Forest Service


Yesterday, a federal judge once again struck down an attempt to revise the rules governing national forest planning (see our story "The End of Analysis Paralysis"). Environmentalists had filed suit, charging that the changes would weaken protections for wildlife (by getting rid of the viability requirement) and exempt national forest plans from formal review under the National Environmental Policy Act. It's now the third time the changed rules have been pushed back in court.  The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

The decision means the Forest Service will have to reinstate rules protecting fish and wildlife and limiting logging in 150 national forests and 20 national grasslands covering 192 million acres, including more than a dozen national forests in California.

"It is a great victory for national forests," said Marc Fink, a lawyer for the Center for Biological Diversity, which was one of the plaintiffs. "We're hoping today's ruling is the final nail in the coffin for the Bush forest policies and that we can move forward and do what is right for the forests."

The agency will now have to return to either its 1982 or 2000 planning rules. But those cumbersome, inflexible rules are still in need of an overhaul. “We’ve sort of run the course (with the previous rule) and a lot of things haven’t worked,” said Tony Cheng, associate professor of forestry and natural resource policy at Colorado State University (quoted in our 2007 story). “Maybe it’s time to try something new. Public lands are an experiment in participatory democracy.”

NFMA Enforcement a Blessing
Linda Blum
Linda Blum
Jul 06, 2009 02:52 PM
The June 30 ruling against the 2008 national forest planning rules affirmed the importance of NFMA and NEPA compliance in planning procedures. I hope this means that the unwieldy Frameworks and one-size-fits-all "eco-regional" plans will yield back to individual forest plans, with all resource values and multiple uses as integrated as possible, as NFMA requires. In the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California there are many communities of place and interest who have been ill-served by Frameworks I and II. Individual national forests' plans are 17-21 years old in the Sierra, while NFMA requires forest plan revisions every 10-15 years. We need inclusive, fair, and honest forest plan revisions that satisfy both NEPA and NFMA... and that means planning on a forest-by-forest basis, per the 1976 law.
Participatory Planning
Jul 15, 2009 09:59 AM
I am all participatory planning, lets do it!