Friday, September 29, 2023
Courthouse News Service
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Court Tells Forest Service to Review Logging Plan

(CN) - The U.S. Forest Service failed to adequately consider the cumulative effects of past timber sales when it approved a logging project in the Ochoco National Forest, the 9th Circuit ruled.

The Deep Creek Vegetation Management Project called for the selective logging of 12.8 million board feet of timber in the national forest which is near Bend, Ore.

League of Wilderness Defenders - Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project and Cascadia Wildlands Project claimed the agency violated the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Forest Management Act by moving forward with the project without considering the cumulative effects. The Forest Service also failed to mark large-diameter trees for protection or maintain connective habitat corridors in the logging area, the lawsuit claimed.

The district court dismissed the case with prejudice, finding that the Forest Service adequately included past timber sales in a different report.

The federal appeals court in San Francisco reversed, ruling that the Forest Service's almost complete failure to include the relevant past timber-sale inputs in the final environmental impact statement fails to survive arbitrary and capricious review.

The appellate court said the agency only included details of one past timber sale and merely mentioned that other sales existed. The court remanded in order to allow the agency to include the omitted information about timber sales.

However, the court held that the agency's statement adequately considers future timber sales, grazing and protection for large-diameter trees.

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