Groups sue to overturn new Forest Planning Rule

Natural Resource Users File Lawsuit on Forest Planning Rule
By  American Forest Resource Council

The American Forest Resource Council (AFRC) and a broad group of national and regional interests filed suit today in Washington, D.C. to overturn the new Forest Service Planning Rule adopted last April. According to the Complaint, the new Rule violates the statutory requirements Congress has given the agency to prepare forest plans to provide for multiple uses of outdoor recreation, range, timber, watershed, and wildlife and fish. The Rule instead elevates the vague concepts of “ecological sustainability” and “ecosystem services” such as carbon storage and spiritual values above all else which will lead to years of lawsuits over new forest plans and forest management projects.

“This is the latest in a series of failed attempts by the Forest Service to write a planning rule consistent with Congressional intent and the National Forest Management Act in 1976,” said Tom Partin, AFRC President. “Especially in the area of ‘species viability’ the statutory direction is to manage our national forests for multiple use, sustained yield and a diversity of species habitats, not to manage exclusively towards benefiting one or two species at the cost of all else.”

Further, Partin said that “We are disappointed that the Rule abandons the Forest Service’s hard fought legal victories which held that judges are to defer to the professional expertise of the local forest managers experienced with local conditions. It is frustrating that the Rule undermines local on-the-ground knowledge by imposing a new “best science” requirement over which no one, not even scientists, can ever agree.

Under the Organic Act of 1897, the purpose of the national forest system is conservation of water flow and assurance of a continuous supply of timber. In 1960, the Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield Act added a mandate for the concepts of multiple use and sustained yield. Under the 1976 National Forest Management Act, the agency is required to adopt rules for writing land use plans.

The American Forest Resource Council represents forest product manufacturers and landowners throughout the west and is based in Portland, Oregon.

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