EPIC v. Simpson Timber Company and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

EPIC v. Simpson Timber Company and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

1998

Controlling more than 380,000 acres of land, Simpson Timber Company was the largest corporate logging company on the North Coast and was also the first logging company in California to receive an Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) to “take” (or kill) a protected species. The company received a permit in 1992 to kill 100 Northern spotted owls during the first 10 years of the HCP.

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) requires that formal consultation occur with appropriate fish and wildlife agencies if a new species is listed that might be affected by Simpson’s HCP. Since the permit was issued, the Marbled Murrelet, Coho salmon and Tidewater Goby have been listed as “threatened” with extinction, but consultation on the impacts to these species has never been initiated. In September 1998, EPIC filed suit against U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Simpson Timber Company, alleging that the impacts of the HCP on these newly listed species should be examined since these impacts were never considered in the initial review and approval of the HCP. We filed a motion for summary judgment in December 1998, and the hearing occurred in February 1999. The motion was denied in March 1999. EPIC appealed to the 9th Circuit in July 1999 and oral arguments were presented in October 2000. EPIC was represented in this case by Neil Levine of Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund and Brendan Cummings.