EIR Ruled Invalid
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Court Rules Jackson State Forest Environmental Report Invalid

August 5, 2003           Press Release                 For Immediate Release

Contact: Vince Taylor, Ph.D. (707) 937-3001
Paul Carroll (legal) (650) 322-5652

Court Rules Jackson State Forest Environmental Report Invalid

New Management Plan Revoked and Logging Halted

July 30, Ukiah. The Mendocino Superior Court today upheld a challenge to the environmental report for Jackson State Redwood Forest. Judge Richard Henderson, ruling on a suit brought by the Campaign to Restore Jackson State Redwood Forest and Forests Forever, ruled in the favor on three fundamental issues, including failure to adequately consider the regional setting and to analyze cumulative impacts of proposed timber operations. He invalidated the EIR and directed the Board of Forestry to rescind its approval of the management plan. He also enjoined further timber operations, but with some ambiguity about the pending plans in Brandon Gulch and Camp 3.

At a minimum, the deficiencies in the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) must be corrected, the revised EIR submitted for public comment, the comments responded to, and the revised Final EIR approved by the Board of Forestry (rather than by CDF as was the EIR invalidated by the court). Henderson found very significant deficiencies in the treatment of both the regional setting of Jackson State and analysis of cumulative impacts. Correcting these deficiencies will be a major task and will not quickly done.

The implications of the decision are far broader and more profound than the requirements to correct the deficiencies in the EIR. Judge Henderson strongly condemned CDF for its complete disregard of "the clear legislative directives" requiring consideration of the regional setting and cumulative impacts. He said that CDF failed to "prepare an EIR that complies with the minimal statutory requirements," and "CDF ignored the relatively clear guidelines and conducted a deficient environmental review."

Judge Henderson addressed the financial harm that his decision would bring to owners and workers in coastal timber operations – and he placed blame squarely on CDF:

"…[T]he failure of CDF to prepare and EIR that complies with the minimal statutory standards leaves me with no alternative but to direct CDF and the Board to rescind the approval of the EIR. CDF and the Board had every reason to believe that their approval of the updated Management Plan would be subjected to close judicial scrutiny. With that in mind, CDF and Board should have scrupulously followed the procedures adopted by the legislature to minimize the risk of an inevitable court challenge and the potential economic hardship on the management of the JDSF and on the local timber industry. Instead, CDF virtually ignored the relatively clear guidelines and conducted a deficient environmental review that will inevitably further delay logging activities in the Jackson Demonstration State Forest."

Dr. Vince Taylor, Executive Director of the Campaign to Restore Jackson State Redwood Forest, said, "Taken as a whole, Judge Henderson’s decision amounts to a strong indictment of CDF’s disregard for the public, the environment, and the law. The state administration and legislation cannot ignore this criticism, which comes not from an environmental organization, but from a judge who has demonstrated a strong concern for the well-being of the timber industry.

CDF is charged with enforcing the environmental laws designed to protect the state’s forest resources. Its failure to perform an even minimally adequate environmental review of its own timber operations is scandalous. It raises fundamental questions about CDF’s ability and desire to enforce forestry environmental laws as well as its fitness to manage the state forests."

The Court ruling summary and disposition are at:
Decision Summary

Previous press releases, legal briefs and background on this issue are at www.jacksonforest.com.