The Public as Pest
The timber industry, and, from time to time, the Forest Service, have found that allowing the public to participate in decisions involving management of the national forests is a pain in the you-know-what, an impediment to their desire to log as much and as fast as they want. Likewise a legal requirement that "viable populations" of wildlife species must be sustained.
As Far Back as Reagan
But that's the law, and has been since 1982. Undeterred by history, the Bush administration moved to amend the regulations that govern implementation of the law -- the National Forest Management Act -- so as to eliminate the public's ability to challenge logging plans and to remove the pesky "viapops" requirements. Two suits were filed on behalf of conservation groups, one by Earthjustice, the other by the Western Environmental Law Center.
Victory Is Achieved
On March 30, 2007, a federal judge found the rule change illegal, a violation of NFMA. Trent Orr, Earthjustice attorney, was quoted in the Los Angeles Times: "The national forest planning rules are like the Constitution for our national forests, and the Bush administration tried to throw out the Bill of Rights."