Totaling approximately 3.5 million acres, the southern California forests are internationally recognized as an important region for biodiversity, and serve as immensely popular recreational destinations for millions of Americans.
In early 2008, four Southern California Forests were in peril. The Cleveland, Angeles, San Bernardino, and Los Padres National Forests were threatened by the Forest Service’s flawed revision plans—violating the National Environmental Policy Act.
The revised plans were sharply skewed towards allowing more environmentally damaging activities on the forests—in particular, recreation such as off-road vehicle use—while at the same time the plans failed to set aside and protect sensitive areas and species’ habitat. The plans also opened up vast roadless areas to future development and activities that would prevent the areas from being designated wilderness in the future.
Earthjustice challenged the Forest Service’s legally flawed process for approving revisions to forest plans for four southern California national forests. In September 2009, a federal district judge ruled that the plan did not adequately protect those forests’ wildest landscapes, later spurring an agreement in 2010 to protect one million acres of roadless areas in Southern California forests.