Jump to Navigation
Jump to Content

Environmental Protection & Info. Ctr. v. California Dep't of Forestry & Fire Protection

ELR Citation: 38 ELR 20177
Nos. No. S140547, (Cal., 07/17/2008) Rev'd in part & aff'd in part

The Supreme Court of California overturned the state forestry agency's approval of a master plan for the intensive logging of old growth redwoods and other trees on a lumber company's property in Humboldt County as well as the agency's issuance of an incidental take permit, but otherwise affirmed a lower court decision upholding various regulatory approvals. The state agency's approval of the company's sustained yield plan, which is a kind of master plan for logging a large area, was invalid because there is no single, agreed-upon plan. In addition, any resubmitted sustained yield plan should have an adequate analysis of individual planning watersheds, which the plan as originally approved did not contain. In addition, the state's 50-year incidental take permit, which authorized the capturing and killing of endangered and threatened species incidental to lawful activity, was deficient. It included overly broad "no surprises" clauses limiting in advance the company's obligation to mitigate the impacts of its logging operations. Inasmuch as the permit categorically exempts the company from mitigating impacts of its own activities on listed species and their habitat, it goes further than what California Fish and Game Code §2081(b)(2) allows. The legislature intended that a landowner bear no more—but also no less—than the costs incurred from the impact of its activity on listed species. To the extent that the changed and unforeseen circumstances provisions of the incidental take permit exempt the company from this obligation, they exceed the state agency's statutory authority under the California Endangered Species Act.

[A prior decision in this litigation can be found at 35 ELR 20250.]