Court affirms forest planning rule (News 5/2/15)

Keith Kinnaird

A U.S. District judge is outlining her rationale for rejecting a challenge of a federal that requires the U.S. Forest Service to rely on science and conservation biology when developing forest plans.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson in Washington, D.C., struck down the rule challenge on March 31 and outlined her position in an opinion released on Tuesday.

The order resulted from competing motions for summary judgment in the case. The plaintiffs, a group of resource industry and recreation interests, argued that the Obama administration’s National Forest Management Act of 2012 forest planning rule would cause an economically harmful reduction in timber harvest and land use, in addition to increasing forest fires.

Conservation groups entered the legal fray in support of the forest planning rule.

Conservation groups cheered Brown Jackson’s ruling in the case. They said the rule establishes a balanced approach to sustain America’s national forests and conserve wildlife.

“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,” Susan Brown, a staff attorney for the Western Environmental Law Center, said in a statement.

Brown Jackson ultimately ruled that the plaintiffs lacked standing because they were unable to demonstrate economic harm.

“Plaintiffs have failed to show that the 2012 Planning Rule threatens an injury-in-fact that is imminent or particularized. “Moreover, because the injures that plaintiffs allege cannot be tracked to the challenged action of the defendant, plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate that the 2012 Planning Rule will cause them harm,” Brown Jackson said in the 43-page opinion.


Learn more about WELC's work on this case.