SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – In a decision affecting 10 million acres of Sierra Nevada national forest, the U.S. Forest Service has gutted the requirement that it monitor roughly 60 species of wildlife, many of them on the brink of extinction, says the Sierra Club in a Federal Court action filed Tuesday.
In violation of the nation’s environmental laws, says the Sierra Club and three other environmental groups, the Forest Service recently amended its land and resource management plans in the “Sierra Nevada Forests Management Indicator Species Amendment” to radically reduce the number of species that should be monitored to keep tabs on the health of the Sierra Nevada.
The indicator species are those animals whose health is a good indicator of the overall health of an ecosystem.
The land and resource management plans for 10 million acres of forest and all 10 Sierra Nevada National Forests “previously included detailed monitoring requirements for certain bellwether species, known as ‘management indicator species,'” the complaint states.
But the Forest Service, in one fell swoop, wiped out is “obligation to monitor the health of over 40 species of fish and wildlife, many of which are already on the brink of extinction. For the 13 remaining management indicator species, the MIS Amendment expressly overrules judicial decisions requiring that the Forest Service monitor such species prior to implementing site-specific projects,” the complaint states. “As a result, the MIS Amendment removes an important safety net for numerous imperiled, at risk, and sensitive species and increases the risk that logging and other activities in the national forests will adversely affect wildlife and their habitat.”
The Fish and Wildlife Service adopted its illegal amendment on Dec. 14, 2007, say plaintiffs Sierra Forest Legacy, Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, and Defenders of Wildlife. They want it enjoined. They are represented by Gregory Loarie and Erin Tobin with Earthjustice of Oakland.