For Immediate Release
Marc Fink, Center for Biological Diversity, (218) 525-3884
After Three Failed Attempts, Forest Service Embarks on Fourth Drafting of National Planning Rules That Could Have Major Impact on Wildlife
More Than 100 Groups Urge Independent Scientific Input
regulations to implement the National Forest Management Act of 1976, a rule
that will govern all regional forest plans and site-specific projects
- such as timber sales, livestock grazing, and road construction -
throughout the entire 193-million-acre national forest system. Federal
courts ruled against
the agency's attempts in 2000, 2005, and 2008 to revise its original
challenged the earlier rules because they weakened mandatory protections
provided by the 1982 rule, including requirements to safeguard fish and
wildlife species and enforceable management standards. The Forest Service's
unlawful argument, throughout the near decade of litigation over these
rules, has been that national regulations have no impact on the environment
because they only establish procedures for later decisions.
announcement by the agency initiates a process to develop a fourth rule and
clarifies the agency's choice, in the interim, to rely on the
transition provision of the 2000 rule. Yesterday the Center for Biological
Diversity and more than 100 other organizations sent a letter to the Forest
Service urging it to convene an independent committee of scientists to
provide scientific oversight over the agency's development of new
disruption demands that the Forest Service stop trying to weasel out from
under laws and embrace a new era of scientifically sound planning,
ecosystem protection, and public accountability," said Marc Fink, an
attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity who helped to represent the
conservation groups in the earlier cases. "Doing so will require real
conservation leadership from the Obama administration."
Forest Service will initiate a 60-day public comment period on its new
planning effort upon publication of a notice in the Federal Register on
Friday, December 18. The new rule will likely take a minimum of two years
to complete, and during the interim, the Forest Service is only required to
"consider" the best available science for proposed
site-specific projects. "During this transition period, which has now
been going on for close to a decade, the Forest Service is falling far
short of its statutory duty to provide for the diversity of fish and
wildlife species on our national forests," said Fink.
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