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Old 10-14-2005, 08:59 AM
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Default Stupid Court Ruling Has Unintended Consequences

From thedenverchannel.com

Christmas Tree Cutting In National Forests Threatened

California Ruling Requiring Public Comment Applied Nationwide

POSTED: 8:39 am MDT October 14, 2005

DENVER -- The White River National Forest has canceled Christmas tree cuttings this season, and the eight other national forests in Colorado are likely to follow suit.

The reason is a federal court ruling from California that said even small activities in national forests require a 105-day notice, comment and appeal period as part of the decision-making process.

So far, more than 130 U.S. Forest Service projects and events that would have taken place in Colorado have been suspended or canceled. More than 7,000 acres of thinning projects and oil and gas projects in Colorado have already been suspended.

Nationwide, the permits immediately suspended included hundreds of fire prevention projects; nearly 100 guide permits for hunting, fishing, horseback riding and fishing; 150 wildlife habitat projects; 165 permits to maintain camp grounds and trails; 15 ski area projects that may shut down the upcoming ski season in some areas; and 40 permits for family reunions and Boy Scout and Girl Scout activities.

The ruling has even impacted plans to cut the White House Christmas tree in a New Mexico national forest. Under terms laid out by the California court, the tree couldn't be cut until February, to allow time for public comment.

The California court case involved a logging dispute that pitted the Sierra Club and several other groups against logging companies. They filed a complaint against the Forest Service, its chief, a Sequoia National Forest ranger and the agriculture secretary.

An attorney for the environmental groups said the California ruling wasn't intended to cover such things as Christmas tree cuttings, mushroom hunters and even outfitters.

However, in a follow-up ruling, the California court said last month that its decision in Earth Island Institute v. Ruthenbeck applied nationwide, rather than just to the local dispute.

"Perhaps the only bright spot is that this may prove to be an object lesson to young lawyers in training to use litigation carefully to avoid unintended consequences," Mark Rey, the U.S. Department of Agriculture undersecretary overseeing the Forest Service told the Denver Post.

Lawyers for the environmentalists claim the Forest Service is applying the ruling to all activities in order to create criticism of the order. The lawyers have asked the U.S. District Court in California to further clarify its ruling.
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Old 10-14-2005, 11:03 AM
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Thanks Jeff! I had not heard this before!
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Old 10-14-2005, 11:06 AM
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There's another article about it in the Denver Post.
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