From our partners at Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities:
The so-called “Cottonwood” case is bringing desperately-needed forest projects to a halt. If it’s not fixed, the decision will threaten rural jobs, recreation and a variety of forest activities. A bipartisan effort in Congress is underway to reverse this disastrous decision. We need your help to pass it!
Last Fall the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the 9th Circuit case that effectively orders the U.S. Forest Service to re-initiate consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) at the programmatic (plan) level following the 2009 designation of critical habitat for the Canada lynx. The case stems from a lawsuit against a forest project intended to protect a watershed in Southwest Montana.
The decision is not about protecting vulnerable wildlife species, it’s about process and courtroom litigation. It could allow anti-forest management groups to secure injunctions anywhere there is a listed species or critical habitat designation, and force the Forest Service and Fish and Wildlife Service to engage in the lengthy, costly process of ESA “consultation.” This consultation would not be about specific projects, but rather about the underlying forest plan, even if that plan is a decade old or more.
The 9th Circuit alone has 11 pending lawsuits and 26 pending “Notices of Intent to Sue” over Endangered Species Act consultations. According to the U.S. Forest Service, 80 vegetation management projects and hundreds of millions of board feet are at risk due to Cottonwood. We need the Forest Service to do more forestry work, not more paperwork. It’s yet another reason why Congress needs to do its job and bring sanity to federal land management. You can help by clicking here.