Enviros Say Uncle Sam Slammed Illegal Door

     SACRAMENTO (CN) – Environmentalists say the U.S. Forest Service is abusing a public participation law to illegally block them from appealing important decisions on forest management. The rules were supposed to implement the Appeals Reform Act, which Sequoia Forestkeeper and others say was meant to strengthen citizen participation.

     But the Forest Service’s regulations have the opposite effect, the environmentalists say.
They claim that after the Appeals Reform Act was passed in 1992, the Forest Service stopped allowing the public to appeal important forest-management decisions.
The plaintiffs, including the Conservation Congress, Earth Island Institute and the Western Watersheds Project, say that though the 9th Circuit declared deemed the rules illegal, the Supreme Court in 2009 allowed the regulations to “spring back to life” on standing issues after 3½ years of being enjoined.
     The plaintiffs cite seven projects on National Forests across the country in which the Forest Service wrongly denied them the right to administrative appeal since 2010.
     This applied to decisions exempted from safeguards of the National Environmental Policy Act, including timber sales of up to 250 acres, forest thinning of less than 1,000 acres, and controlled burns up to 4,500 acres.
     The environmentalists say their members have used the “exact tracts of land” where the seven Forest Service projects are being implemented, and that they would be “directly harmed” by the projects.Also listed as plaintiffs are Oregon Wild, Cascadia Wildlands, Ouachita Watch League, Utah Environmental Congress, and Wildearth Guardians.
     They are represented by the Public Interest Environmental Law firm of Durango, Colo. They seek declaratory judgment, and injunctive relief, and costs.

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