WASHINGTON — In March 2015, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the D.C. District Court issued an order rejecting an
extractive industry challenge to the Obama Administration’s National Forest Management Act 2012 Forest Planning Rule.
The challenge alleged that the rule inappropriately requires the U.S. Forest Service to use science and conservation
biology when creating new forest plans, which guide management on 191 million acres of national forests. On April 28,
the judge issued her opinion setting forth the basis for her decision.
Judge Brown Jackson rejected claims from a coalition of timber, livestock, and off-highway vehicle organizations that
these sustainability provisions in the 2012 Planning Rule will cause an economically harmful reduction in timber harvest
and land use and an increase in forest fires.
Defendant-Intervenors Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center and Oregon Wild, represented by the Western Environmental
Law Center, as well as The Wilderness Society and Defenders of Wildlife, represented by Earthjustice, argued that
existing federal law provided ample authority for the Forest Service to promulgate the Planning Rule provisions, which
place emphasis on ecologically sustainable forest management.
"The National Forest system is a shared heritage, owned by all Americans. The goal of this suit was to make resource
extraction the primary use of national forests, which challenges the very idea of why these forests were established in the
first place," said Joseph Vaile with the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center in Ashland, Oregon. "National forests
provide us with clean drinking water and phenomenal recreation opportunities and these uses are more important than
"WELC and its clients are very pleased with the court's ruling," said Susan Jane Brown, WELC staff attorney. "We are
looking forward to working with the Forest Service and other stakeholders to get to the real business of developing
science-based forest plans under the 2012 Planning Rule that provide for clean water, recreational opportunities, wildlife
habitat, and a restoration economy for local and regional communities."
"The 2012 Forest Planning Rule establishes a balanced approach to sustain America’s national forests and conserve
wildlife, and is supported by a broad spectrum of stakeholders," said Pete Nelson of Defenders of Wildlife. "Now that
the court has validated the lawfulness of the 2012 Planning Rule, this ruling clears the way for constructive efforts to
move forward with forest plans that restore the ecological health of our national forests and deliver all of the benefits the
American people expect from these special places."
"We welcome the court’s rejection of this industry challenge to national forest management that emphasizes the
ecological health of our public forests," said Earthjustice staff attorney Trent Orr. "The laws governing our national
forests solidly support the Forest Service’s wise decision to plan for the ecological sustainability of all national forest and
the invaluable ecosystem services these forests provide, including drinking water, clean air and outdoor recreation."
A copy of the April 28 summary judgment is available here.
A copy of the March 31 denial of summary judgment for the industry challenge is available here.
ONLINE VERSION OF STATEMENT: http://earthjustice.org/news/press/2015/court-throws-out-industry-challenge-to-2012-national-forestry-rules