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Northern Spotted Owl v. Hodel

Citation: 19 ELR 20275
No. No. C88-573Z, (W.D. Wash., 10/27/1988) Motion to intervene denied

The court holds that timber companies may not intervene as defendants in an action by environmental groups challenging the Fish and Wildlife Service's FWS's) decision not to place the northern spotted owl on the endangered species list. The court first holds that the companies may not intervene as of right pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (FRCP) 24(a). The companies have not asserted a legally protectable interest, since their economic interest in the availability of federal timber is not a factor that the FWS can consider in its listing decisions under the Endangered Species Act, which requires that only biological criteria be considered. The court also denies the companies' motion for permissive intervention under FRCP 24(b). Although it does not appear that intervention by the applicants would unduly delay or prejudice adjudication of the case, the applicants have not shown that they will significantly contribute to the full development of the underlying issues. The government's counsel is competent to defend FWS's decision, and it is irrelevant that the applicants' economic interests will not otherwise be represented, since these interests are not cognizable.

[A subsequent decision in this litigation is published at 19 ELR 20277.]

Counsel for Plaintiff
Victor M. Sher, Todd True, Corrie Yackulic
Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund
216 First Ave. S., Ste. 330, Seattle WA 98104
(206) 343-7340

Counsel for Defendant
Charles W. Brooks
Land and Natural Resources Division, Department of Justice
P.O. Box 7369, Ben Franklin Station, Washington DC 20044-7369
(202) 633-4084