Rim Post-Fire Logging Litigation

In August of 2014 the John Muir Project (JMP) and the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) filed suit against the Stanislaus National Forest near Yosemite to protect over 60 resident California Spotted Owls (a rare and declining species) in 39 territories from the Rim post-fire logging project–one of the largest and most damaging post-fire logging projects in the history of U.S. National Forests – which approved logging within the core area of every single occupied spotted owl territory in the Rim fire on the Stanislaus National Forest.
Oral argument on our Appeal of the denial of our Motion for a Preliminary Injunction by the District Court has been scheduled.

May 11, 2015 at 9:00 a.m.
(to observe argument please arrive at 8:30 a.m.)

Courtroom #3
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
95 7th Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

JMP and CBD allege that the Forest Service violated the National Environmental Policy Act by misleading the public in its Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), and therefore not disclosing the truth about the impacts of the logging project.

Specifically, the Rim fire EIS told the public that the 2013 Rim fire was too large and burned too intensely to continue to support California spotted owls. What the Forest Service deliberately refused to tell the public was that California Spotted Owl occupancy in the Rim fire area in 2014, one year after the fire (and before post-fire logging), was at some of the highest levels ever recorded in any area of the Sierra Nevada–including unburned old forest. In addition, the Forest Service’s EIS misled the public by claiming that post-fire logging will not remove any Spotted Owl habitat or have any significant effect on the owls, despite the science that shows California Spotted Owls strongly prefer to forage/hunt in the very areas targeted by the Rim fire logging project–complex early seral forest created when high-intensity fire occurs in mature forest stands. The Forest Service also improperly minimized and dismissed multiple scientific sources concluding that post-fire logging of these prime Spotted Owl hunting grounds causes the owls to abandon their territories (often resulting in starvation or predation), worsening ongoing population declines.

The district court denied Plaintiffs’ Motion for Preliminary Injunction in October of 2014. We are now on appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in our continued effort to prevent the Forest Service from causing abandonment of the 39 occupied spotted owl territories which currently exist in the project area.