Sierra Club and EPIC v. Keefer and CDF (State Headwaters Exemption)

Sierra Club and EPIC v. Keefer and CDF (State Headwaters Exemption)


In September 1994, during the Owl Creek trial, Pacific Lumber was quietly granted an exemption to salvage log 179,000 acres of land including at least 10 old-growth groves. Within days of EPIC’s February 1995 victory in federal court, Pacific Lumber announced plans to salvage log an additional 6,000 acres, including the pristine 3000-acre Headwaters Grove, under another exemption. These exemptions were granted under a CDF rule that exempts logging of ‘dead, diseased, and dying’ trees from public comment or environmental review. EPIC sought a court order to withdraw approval and stay logging under the exemption rule for all the old-growth groves involved. In addition EPIC sought a declaration from the court that such ‘exemptions’ must fully comply with the environmental review requirements of CEQA.

Procedure: Pacific Lumber filed with CDF Notice of Exemption (1-94EX-1110) for 179,000 acres on 9/21/94. The Headwaters Exemption (1-95EX-086) was filed on 3/1/95 for 6,000 acres. After returning the Headwaters Exemption on 3/6/95, CDF accepted it 3/15/95. EPIC filed suit (Humboldt Ct. #95DR0072) on 3/10/95 regarding the 179,000-acre exemption, and amended the suit on 3/21/95 to include the Headwaters Exemption. A standstill agreement was reached between EPIC and Pacific Lumber preventing cutting of ancient forest under the exemptions until decision by the court on the Preliminary Injunction. A hearing was held 3/1/95 before visiting Judge James Kleaver on EPIC’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction and Pacific Lumber’s Motion for Demurrer and Judgment on the Pleadings. On 5/18/95 Judge Kleaver ruled against EPIC on the merits and denied our request for a Preliminary Injunction. He also overruled Pacific Lumber’s demurrer and motions to dismiss and for judgment on the pleadings. EPIC appealed, requesting an emergency stay (A070042). Petition for Writ of Supersedeas to halt operations until appeal hearing denied 6/6/95. [However, Preliminary Injunction received in federal court.] Oral arguments heard 2/15/96 in California Court of Appeal, Division One.

Status: final – Appeals court affirmed the trial court ruling which denied this CEQA challenge to the CDF exemption logging procedure, 2/23/96, unpublished.

Attorneys: Joseph Brecher (Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund), David Henkin, Michael Golden.

EPIC Contact: Cecelia Lanman.