Two North Coast environmental groups filed suit in state court on Friday challenging the California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection adoption of regulations that fail to meet standards of environmental protection or to ensure long-term sustained yield of forest products for in-perpetuity logging plans as required by state law.
The Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) and Coast Action Group (CAG) jointly filed suit in in Alameda County on Friday, to challenge the adoption of regulations by the Board of Forestry to implement the mandates of Assembly Bill 904 (Chesbro 2013), which requires, among other things, assurances of unevenaged management, long-term sustained yield of forest products, and environmental protections to be built into the regulatory permitting structure for an in-perpetuity timber harvesting permit, known as a “Working Forest Management Plan.”
Assembly Bill 904 created the framework for the development of a “Working Forest Management Plan” for logging on private land. The “Working Forest Management Plan” offers a landowner with less than 15,000 acres and who qualify for the program a logging permit in perpetuity, in exchange for a commitment to superior forestland management, practicing unevenaged forest management, attaining maximum sustained production and long-term sustained yield of forest products, and providing enhanced environmental protections.
The regulations adopted by the Board of Forestry in June, 2015 to implement the mandates of Assembly Bill 904 fail to contain essential standards or provisions that would ensure attainment of unevenaged management, long-term sustained yield, or environmental protections.
“The regulations enacted by the board simply fail the test of ensuring that the mandates of the legislature to attain unevenaged management and long-term sustained yield and environmental protection are achieved,” said Rob DiPerna, EPIC’s California Forest and Wildlife Advocate. “To the contrary, the regulations adopted by the board have the real potential to result in significant forestland degradation due to the lack of meaningful built-in safeguards.”
“To put it simply, the Board of Forestry is simply not doing its job,” said Alan Levine, of Coast Action Group. Levine called the “Working Forest Management Plan” regulations, “a planning device that evades the legislative intent of superior management, reasonable environmental standards, and legal requirements.”
EPIC and CAG are asking the State Court to set aside the Board of Forestry’s approval of the “Working Forest Management Plan” regulations, and to remand the regulations back to the Board to make significant improvements that would meet the intent of the enabling legislation to achieve unevenaged management, long-term sustained yield, and environmental protections as part of any approved “Working Forest Management Plan.”