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Strengthening Protections for Our Nation's Forests

Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Washington.

Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Washington.

Photo courtesy of Rachel Sandwick

What's at Stake

The National Forest Management Act was adopted in 1976 to protect forests, water resources and declining species from unchecked logging and industrial development. In addition to removing public input from the decision making process, the revisions would have severely weakened protections for forests, watersheds and wildlife.

Case Overview

In 2004, the Bush Administration issued revisions to the National Forest Management Act, which governs the management of the country’s 155 national forests and 20 grasslands. In addition to removing public input from the decision making process, these revisions would have severely weakened protections for forests, watersheds and wildlife. Earthjustice challenged the rules and in 2007, a federal court rejected the Administration’s revisions. The court ruled that the administration failed to provide an adequate Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and that the proposed revisions violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

In April 2008, in a renewed attempt to weaken national forest protections, the Forest Service under the Bush Administration issued a Record of Decision on national forest planning rules. The new set of rules was nearly identical to the revisions the court had previously invalidated. The new revisions also sought to repeal key environmental protections and limit public participation in the decision making process. The court-ordered EIS provided no actual impact analysis of the regulations, nor offered any alternative forms of those regulations. It brashly stated that none of the revisions would affect the environment. Once again the Bush Administration violated the NEPA and the Endangered Species Act by approving the new regulations based on a faulty EIS that failed to adequately analyze the environmental impacts of the new regulations on forest ecology, wildlife and water quality.

In June of 2009, U.S. District court overturned the Bush Administration’s second attempt to minimize the role of science and public say on maintaining the natural resources and wildlife of the country’s 193 million acre National Forest System.

The National Forest Management Act was adopted in 1976 to protect forests, water resources and declining species from unchecked logging and industrial development. Thanks to Earthjustice attorneys, the integrity of our environmental laws has been upheld.

Case ID

9599, 1750, 1374

Case Updates

June 30, 2009 | Legal Document

NFMA Order (6/30/09)

U.S. District Court judge Claudia Wilken's order overturns the Bush administration's last attempt to weaken rules governing management of national forests and grasslands.

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