The US Forest Service opened
up some land in a National Forest in Texas to clearcutting.
Technically, the term is even-aged
management, because after the
clearcutting is done, all the trees that regrow will be the same age.
Sierra Club sued for an
Sierra Club argued that the
Forest Service's even-aged management
plan was a violation of the National Forest Management Act
(NFMA)(16 U.S.C. §1604), and the National Environmental
Policy Act (NEPA).
Specifically, the Sierra Club
argued that there was an endangered woodpecker that needed old growth
forest for habitat.
Sierra Club argued that even-aged
management should only be done in
exceptional circumstances, and this wasn't an exceptional circumstance.
The Trial Court issued a
preliminary injunction. The Forest Service appealed.
The Trial Court found that NFMA restricts even-aged management
except in exceptional circumstances.
The Court noted that NFMA only allows even-aged management
when "such cuts are carried out in a manner consistent with the
protection of the soil, watershed, wildlife, recreation, and esthetic
resources and the regeneration of the timber resource."
The Court based their ruling
on the idea that NFMA mandates
biodiversity, and even-aged management is contrary to
The Appellate Court reversed
and denied the injunction.
The Appellate Court found
that the purpose of NFMA was to
be a balancing act between competing forest management priorities,
including a commitment to biodiversity.
The Court found that in some
cases, even-aged management is the
best solution to protecting biodiversity while also meeting the other
objectives of NFMA.
The Court noted that while
some species (like woodpeckers) will suffer when a forest is clearcut,
other species will flourish (ones that prefer grass and light over trees
The Court found that the
Forest Service was the best judge of what would best protect the
biodiversity mandated by NFMA, so
the Court should defer to Forest Service judgment.
See Chevron U.S.A. Inc.
v. Natural Resources Defense Council
(467 U.S. 837 (1984)).