Sierra Club v. Martin
110 F.3d 1551 (11th Cir. 1997)
The US Forest Service sold the
rights to cut timber in a National Forest in Georgia.
The Forest was home to a
large number of migratory birds.
Environmental groups (led by
Sierra Club) sued for an injunction to stop the sale.
Sierra Club argued that the
sale would kill thousands of migratory birds, and would be in violation
of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act
The Forest Service agreed
that the plan would kill birds, but argued that the MTBA did not apply to them.
The Trial Court found for
Sierra Club and issued the injunction. The Forest Service appealed.
The Appellate Court reversed.
The Appellate Court looked
at the wording of the MTBA and
found that it applies to any "person, association, partnership, or
corporation," but did not explicitly state that it applies to
actions taken by the Federal government.
The Court similarly found
that since you can't cut forests without killing at least some birds, the
fact that Congress had authorized the Forest Service to allow logging must
mean that the MTBA did not apply
to Forest Service actions.
Congress intended the
Forest Service to follow the National Forest Management Act (NFMA) regulatory process, not the MTBA criminal prohibitions in addressing the
conservation of migratory birds.
The D.C. Circuit came to
exactly the opposite conclusion in Humane Society of the United States
v. Glickman (217 F.3d 882 (2000)).