Challenging Destructive Logging Practices on Federal Land

photo by John Muir Project

Overview

The John Muir Project goes to court to enforce federal environmental laws in National Forests, including the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the National Forest Management Act (NFMA), and the Endangered Species Act (ESA), in order to ensure that federal public forestlands are managed to provide optimal ecological conditions to support and restore the full complement of native biodiversity in these forest ecosystems, which have been severely degraded and damaged by decades of commercial logging and suppression of wildland fires.

Significant Developments

Bull Run Project

On March 7, 2018, John Muir Project and Sequioa Forestkeeper filed a lawsuit against the United States Forest Service challenging two tree removal projects, one in Sequoia National Forest (Bull Run project) and the other in the Giant Sequoia National Monument (Spear Creek project). In both instances, the Forest Service bypassed environmental review requirements by relying on the use of categorical exclusions, despite the existence of extraordinary circumstances which prevent the use of categorical exclusions. This case is currently on appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Rene P. Voss and Matt Kenna are representing John Muir Project in this case.

photo credit Alison Sheehey of Sequoia Forest Keeper

Timber Sales in Sequoia and Sierra National Forests

On December 12, 2016, John Muir Project and Sequioa Forestkeeper filed a lawsuit against the United States Forest Service over its failure to consider significant new circumstances and information with respect to three proposed timber sales. Additionally, the Forest Service failed to consider the combined potential of these projects to adversely affect Pacific Fisher, California Spotted owl, and Northern Goshawk habitat. As a result of this legal challenge, the Forest Service prepared additional environmental analysis of the project. Rene P. Voss and Matt Kenna represented John Muir Project in this case.

Sunny South Logging Project in Tahoe National Forest

On September 29, 2016, John Muir Project and Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit challenging the United States Forest Service over its proposed green tree timber sale in California Spotted Owl habitat. Specifically, they are challenging the use of a categorical exclusion to avoid environmental analysis of this project, which allows for the logging of live and dead trees across 2,700 acres of Tahoe National Forest. This case is currently on appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Justin Augustine of Center for Biological Diversity and Rene P. Ross are representing John Muir Project in this matter.

French Fire Project in Sierra National Forest

On August 31, 2015, John Muir Project and Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California challenging the environmental analysis conducted by the United States Forest Service for a logging project in the French Fire area of Sierra National Forest. Specifically, the lawsuit challenged the failure to provide for notice and comment on the project's impacts, failure to take a “hard look” at the impacts in the roadless areas, and failure to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement. As a result of this Challenge, the Court enjoined the Forest Service from conducting further logging in the roadless areas unless and until it provided for notice and comment, and responded to those comments. Attorneys from the Center for Biological Diversity represented John Muir Project in this matter.

Logging in Black-Backed Woodpecker Habitat in Lassen National Forest

On July 30, 2015, John Muir Project joined Center for Biological Diversity in seeking an injunction against the United States Forest Service overs its plan to allow logging on about 14,000 acres in Lassen National Forest. The proposed logging threatened burned forest habitat, which is critical habitat for the Black-backed Woodpecker. Justin Augustine of the Center for Biological Diversity and Sean Malone represented John Muir Project in this matter.

Aspen Project in Sierra National Forest

In July 2014, John Muir Project joined Center for Biological Diversity in seeking an injunction against the United States Forest Service over its plan to allow logging on almost two thousand acres in Sierra National Forest. The area of the proposed logging was important habitat for the California Spotted Owl, the Pacific Fisher, and the Black-backed Woodpecker. Rachel Fazio (Associate Director & Staff Attorney of the John Muir Project) and Justin Augustine of the Center for Biological Diversity represented John Muir Project in this matter.

Big Hope Project in Tahoe National Forest

On July 22, 2014, John Muir Project joined Center for Biological Diversity in seeking an injunction against the United States Forest service over its plan to allow logging on tens of thousands of acres in Tahoe National Forest. The proposed logging threatened burned forest habitat, which is critical habitat of the Black-backed Woodpecker. Rachel Fazio (Associate Director & Staff Attorney of the John Muir Project) and Justin Augustine of the Center for Biological Diversity represented John Muir Project in this matter.

Rim Fire Recovery Project

On September 4, 2014, John Muir Project joined two other organizations in seeking an injunction against the United States Forest Service over its plan to allow logging in 52 square miles of the Stanislaus National Forest. The proposed logging threatened critical California Spotted Owl habitat and sought to prevent logging on 40 percent of the area in order to create a buffer between nests and roosting sites and logging operations. Rachel Fazio (Associate Director & Staff Attorney of the John Muir Project) and Justin Augustine of the Center for Biological Diversity represented John Muir Project in this matter.

Lassen National Forest Timber Sale 

On August 11, 2008, John Muir Project filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California challenging the scientific integrity and accuracy of the Environmental Assessment conducted by the United States Forest Service for a timber sale in the Champs area of Lassen National Forest. As a result of this challenge, the Court enjoined the Forest Service from moving forward with the timber sale contracts until completion of an adequate and sufficient environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act. Rene P. Voss and Rachel Fazio (Associate Director & Staff Attorney of the John Muir Project) represented John Muir Project in this matter.

Project

John Muir Project

Focus Area

Conservation