A sharply divided U.S. Supreme Court has issued a ruling limiting environmental organizations' ability to challenge U.S. Forest Service regulations. The five-judge majority ruled that five environmental groups lacked legal ability – or "standing" – to challenge Forest Service regulations exempting salvage-timber sales of 250 acres or less from statutory environmental review provisions because the organizations could not show they suffered concrete harm from the exemptions.
The California Supreme Court has upheld three timber harvest plans that an appellate court had found to be in violation of the state Forest Practices Act and the California Department of Forestry's functional equivalent of the California Environmental Quality Act. The state high court ruled the analysis of cumulative impact on two rare species was adequate, as was an analysis of likely herbicide use.
The Humboldt County district attorney cannot sue Pacific Lumber Company for allegedly submitting false information during the state's processing of an environmental impact report and sustainable logging plan, the First District Court of Appeal has ruled.
The court ruled that the district attorney's lawsuit was blocked by a section of the state Civil Code and by the Noerr-Pennington doctrine, which protects lobbying and petitioning activities. The court did not rule on the legitimacy of Pacific Lumber's allegedly fraudulent statements.
Nearly seven years ago, state Sen. Byron Sher wrote what turned out to be a prophetic commentary for the San Francisco Examiner about the pending resolution of one of the most bitter, drawn-out and violent disputes over forest management in California history. "Look beyond the hype over the deal to save the Headwaters Forest," he wrote in June 1998, "and you'll see that taxpayers may not be getting their money's worth."