(CN) – A federal judge in San Francisco ruled that the U.S. Forest Service acted “not in accordance with the law” when it dragged its feet on protecting endangered species in Southern California’s Angeles, Cleveland, Los Padres and San Bernardino National Forests.
The Center for Biological Diversity and other environmental groups claimed that the Forest Service’s revised plans for the national forests did not include a report specifying how much damage had been done to threatened species, including the Stellar sea lion and steelhead trout.
“What we were getting at was that the U.S. Forest Service did not make a statement on how to minimize, monitor or alleviate the harm that is being done to these species,” said Marc Fink, lead attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity.
“This is a big issue for us because forest plans are only revised every 15 years.”
Fink said that damage to species’ habitats mostly stems from human use of hiking trails and logging roads, as well as recreational mining.
“What’s wrong is that these forests are surrounded by people,” said Fink. “But we’re not trying to lock the public out. We’re just trying to find a balance between preserving the species and the public’s enjoyment of the parks.”
U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel concluded that feds’ inaction violated the Endangered Species Act. She ordered the Forest Service to prepare new reports on the parks.