EPIC and Sierra Club v. Board of Forestry (Owl II)

EPIC and Sierra Club v. Board of Forestry (Owl II)


Beginning in April 1990, EPIC fought Pacific Lumber Company plan to log 237 acres at the core of the ancient redwood/Douglas fir grove known as Owl Creek, located within the Headwaters Forest complex. The California Department of Forestry originally rejected this THP because the THP lacked adequate information on the marbled murrelet, at the time a state ‘candidate’ species, and then denied the plan on 1/30/91 because Pacific Lumber refused to provide murrelet surveys and mitigations. After Pacific Lumber appealed, the Board of Forestry approved the THP over the objections of CDF, the California Department of Fish & Game, the Attorney General and their own counsel. EPIC sued the Board of Forestry in State Superior Court in March 1991 alleging that the plan would violate the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) and convinced a Humboldt County judge to require the Board to reconsider the Plan. On 3/6/92 the Board reapproved the plan conditioned on Pacific Lumber performing adequate murrelet surveys. Pacific Lumber never met these conditions. On 3/12/92 the murrelet was listed by the Department of Fish and Game as ‘endangered’ under CESA. In June 1992 Pacific Lumber began weekend logging operations in the Owl Creek grove without consulting with state or federal wildlife agencies as required by law. After 3 days of illegal logging, the company ceased operations only after being threatened with legal proceedings. This illegal cut netted Pacific Lumber over $1,000,000. In September 1992 EPIC obtained a Temporary Restraining Order preventing PL from re-entering the grove. After the marbled murrelet was listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as ‘threatened’ EPIC filed suit in federal District Court (see EPIC and Marbled Murrelet v. Pacific Lumber).

Procedure: THP 1-90-237 HUM rejected for filing 4/19/90 and denied by CDF 1/30/91; Pacific Lumber appealed; approved by Board of Forestry 3/6/91. EPIC filed Petition for Writ 3/26/91 (Humboldt Ct. #91CPO244, Judge Ferroggiaro). Trial court granted Alternative Writ 8/6/91 requiring the Board to reconsider the THP. The Board returned to court arguing compliance and reapproved the plan 3/6/92 conditioned on adequate murrelet surveys being performed. EPIC sought a Supplemental Writ 9/18/92 until the surveys were actually performed and was granted a TRO. While Pacific Lumber challenged Judge Ferroggiaro as biased, visiting Judge Hatch granted their Demurrer. EPIC was granted an Emergency Stay by the Appellate Court 12/1/92 (#A059797). Case transferred from Division One to Division Five on 1/19/93. PL’s Petition for Review by Supreme Court denied 5/20/93 (#S031969). When the state appellate court (#A059875) lifted this Stay in November 1993 EPIC was granted a TRO in federal District Court (see Marbled Murrelet and EPIC v. Pacific Lumber).

Status: final – Case was dismissed (11-15-93) on procedural grounds. (By the date of dismissal the grove was protected by case Marbled Murrelet and EPIC v. Pacific Lumber).

Attorneys: Joseph Brecher and Julie McDonald (Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund), Mark Harris, Rod Jones,(EPIC).

Contacts: Charles Powell, Cecelia Lanman.