For Immediate Release, June 2, 2008
Contact: David Hogan, (760) 809-9244 (cell)
U.S. Forest Service Rejects Environmentalists' Appeal of Southern
California National Forest Management Plans
Forest Plans Harm Rarest Plants and Animals,
Encourage Exploitation Over Conservation
SAN FRANCISCO– In a move destined to harm dwindling southern California ecosystems, the U.S. Forest Service has rejected a formal administrative appeal by environmentalists of the agency’s management blueprint for the four southern California National Forests – the Angeles, Cleveland, Los Padres, and San Bernardino.
In 2007 the Forest Service rejected a similar formal appeal by the state of California to protect wild roadless areas on the four national forests, resulting in a February 2008 lawsuit by the state.
“Southern California national forests provide an increasingly rare wild refuge for imperiled plants and animals in a growing sea of urban development,” said David Hogan, conservation manager at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Yet the Forest Service ignores these values and treats most of this land as if it were worthy only of development for urban infrastructure, noxious motor recreation, and other exploitation. Such is the anti-nature legacy of the Bush administration.”
The Center for Biological Diversity has worked for years to strengthen conservation measures in the overarching land management plans for the four southern California national forests. The Center filed a lawsuit in 1998 that resulted in a settlement requiring the Forest Service to update the plans and, in the meantime, provide important interim protections for the rarest species.
Between 2001 and 2005 the Center watched over the national forest management plan revisions and pressed for stronger environmental protection. Two years before release of the draft plans in 2002, the Center led 14 other groups to prepare and submit A Conservation Alternative for the Management of the Four Southern California National Forests, a more-than-400-page document of recommendations for true conservation management of the four forests. The Center subsequently led extensive comments on the draft plans. But the Forest Service ultimately elected to favor traditional harmful practices – roadbuilding, off-road vehicle recreation, power lines, oil and gas development, logging, and grazing – over a new conservation path. In 2006 the Center and partners filed a major administrative appeal the new forest plans and the Forest Service’s decision today is a response to that appeal.
The four southern California national forests are ecological jewels in need of new and creative conservation attention. Encompassing over 3.5 million acres of coast, foothill, mountain, and high desert terrain, the forests shelter a remarkable total of 3,000 plant and animal species – many of which occur nowhere else on Earth – from metastasizing urban development. From the iconic California condor and steelhead trout to the diminutive Quino checkerspot butterfly and San Diego thornmint, the forests provide a home for at least 480 at risk species. They provide an unprecedented opportunity to preserve a natural remnant of southern California for its own sake and for the benefit of millions of nearby California residents, communities, and visitors.
Today’s Forest Service decision on environmentalists’ forest plan appeal can be viewed here:
The Center for Biological Diversity is a nonprofit conservation organization with more than 40,000 members dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.