News Article


A coalition of conservation groups lodged a complaint today in
Federal District Court in San Francisco challenging the Bush
administration’s new rules for managing the nation’s 192
million acre National Forest System, a magnificent network of
forests and grasslands in 42 states that encompasses 8
percent of the country. The challenged regulations are
supposed to govern activities on all national forests and ensure
the protection of wildlife and the environment, but the Bush
administration has watered them down to the point where they
are virtually meaningless.
Earthjustice represents Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club, The
Wilderness Society, and Vermont Natural Resources Council
as they challenge these regulations on the following grounds:
– they fail to include the environmental protection measures
mandated by Congress in the National Forest Management Act
of 1976;
– they reverse more than 20 years of protection for wildlife
and other resources without any sound or scientific basis for
doing so, or any adequate replacement; requirements to use
quantitative measurements of wildlife populations and
mandatory duties to conserve wildlife on national forests have
been eliminated or made discretionary;
– they were crafted through a flawed process – the
environmental impacts of this far-reaching action were never
analyzed and many significant changes first appeared in the
final rule, depriving the public of an opportunity to comment
on them.
“The nation’s forests and the people who own them deserve
better than this,” said Rodger Schlickeisen, President of
Defenders of Wildlife. “We are hopeful the courts will send
these rules back to the industry lobbyists who wrote them,
stamped ‘illegal’.”
“The new Bush forest rules aren’t rules at all – they’re more like
suggestions. They turn forest management to mush, mocking
the intent of Congress and undermining public participation in
the process,” said Trent Orr, an attorney with Earthjustice.
“Agencies need leadership and clear guidance, not this wink and
a nod that encourages the exploitation of the public’s resources.”
“Some basic protections for non-timber resources like wildlife
and water made sense to the Reagan administration, which put
them in place,” said Mike Anderson of The Wilderness Society.
“But this administration just went on a search and destroy
mission for any environmental safeguard that might stand
between the administration’s industry donors and the public’s
“The Bush administration is eliminating national forest wildlife
protections that have been in place and effective for decades,
“said Sean Cosgrove, forest policy specialist with the Sierra
Club. “Americans want to protect the places where they hike,
hunt, and fish, not turn them over to the logging companies.”
Local conservation groups are concerned and have joined this
legal challenge. The ramifications of the new regulations may
be felt in Vermont, where the Forest Service is updating a plan
to manage the Green Mountain National Forest. “The regulations
seemingly instruct the Forest Service to ignore the monitoring of
wildlife species that Vermonters and visitors value and cherish,
“said Jamey Fidel of the Vermont Natural Resources Council.
The complaint is being filed as a supplement to a lawsuit filed by
the same plaintiffs in November against a related rule more
specifically attacking national forest wildlife and other resource
protections. The lawsuit is Defenders of Wildlife v. Johanns,
and was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern
District of California.
For more information on these regulations, including opposition
from Congress, scientists, and the public, visit:
Read the complaint online here: