California Native Plant Society

Conservation Actions & Archives

Southern California Forest Plans

In 2005, the United States Forest Service revised the plans for the four Southern California national forests. The plan revision largely ignored recommendations made by CNPS, Center for Biological Diversity and other environmental groups in an alternative plan (A Conservation Alternative Plan for Management of the Four Southern California National Forests PDF 4.3Mb) that would have included protections necessary to safeguard the forests’ unique biological diversity. (include doc link above). The Forest Service’s refusal to consider the Conservation Alternative - or any other approach to managing the four forests that would protect forest resources through meaningful management standards - made it impossible for the agency to conduct the in-depth assessment of the environmental trade-offs of its preferred approach that NEPA requires. The Forest Service’s environmental impact statement (“EIS”) also showed that the agency did not take a hard look at the significant adverse impacts of the revised forest plans, including impacts of expanding OHV use, planning for virtually unfettered fuels reduction activities throughout the forests, and opening up roadless areas to these and other damaging activities that could preclude them from ever being protected as wilderness.

In 2008, seven of the environmental groups that worked on the Conservation Alternative filed suit over the failure of the USFS to consider the recommendations in the alternative plan and other flaws in the USFS plan revision. CNPS joined with the following organizations in the lawsuit: Center for Biological Diversity, Los Padres Forest Watch, Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, California Wilderness Coalition and The Wilderness Society.

Current Status: On September 29, 2009, CNPS received Judge Patel's ruling on cross-motions for summary judgment. Judge Patel ruled in favor of CNPS and its co-plaintiffs on two issues, including: 1) the EIS' failure to analyze adequately the impacts to wilderness values, and 2) the EIS' failure to consider a reasonable range of alternatives, specifically, any alternative monitoring and evaluation requirements. Judge Patel also ruled for the State of California, on its claim that the Forest Service failed to comply with NFMA's requirements for disclosing information concerning affected state governments. The parties are currently in settlement discussions working to find supportable remedies to comply with the Court’s ruling.

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