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 (MTBA) (16 U.S.C. 703-711).
    • 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)).