Kentucky Heartwood Appeals Forest Plan Decision to Sixth Circuit
Claims faulty analysis ignored public sentiment, over-emphasizes commercial logging on Daniel Boone National Forest
(Lexington), KY - Kentucky Heartwood recently filed a Notice of Appeal to the 6th Circuit challenging the April 27, 2009 decision of federal judge Karl Forester. Forester ruled against Kentucky Heartwood and Heartwood in a lawsuit charging that the U.S. Forest Service had violated the law in implementing its revised forest management plan and the Morehead Ice Storm Recovery Project.
The forest advocacy organizations initially brought the suit to federal court on the grounds that public input was ignored; effects of herbicides were not analyzed; and the endangered Indiana Bat was not adequately protected. The appeal to Circuit Court charges that District Judge Forester failed to address the issues raised in the original complaint.
In its 2003 revision of the Forest Plan, the Forest Service contemplated several management scenarios for the 700,000-acre Daniel Boone National Forest in Southeastern Kentucky. Unprecedented public input during the planning process resulted in 1,109 letters and 2,658 petition signatures submitted for the Forest Service to consider on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) alone. Ninety-four percent of the individuals who submitted comments on the DEIS urged the federal agency to stop commercial logging on Kentucky's only national forest. The Forest Service considered 6 alternatives in detail; none of them represented a no-logging option.
During the course of the nine-year forest plan revision process, two citizens’ alternatives for managing the forest without commercial logging were submitted to the agency, which ignored them both. Despite the fact that places like Big South Fork and Great Smoky Mountains National Park are successfully managed without the use of commercial logging, the Forest Service attempted to characterize a no-logging option as non-management of the forest and deemed it unworkable without any analysis. Judge Forester accepted their argument without addressing the National Forest Management Act regulations that require the range of alternatives to respond to significant public concerns.
"The Daniel Boone National Forest and the people of Kentucky deserve a management plan rooted in a healthy, functioning forest ecosystem – not a patchwork of logging roads and subsidized commercial harvests. But the Forest Service says this is unworkable, without even taking a serious look at how to do it,” stated Kentucky Heartwood Director, Jim Scheff.
The 2003 Plan approves the use of herbicides across the forest. Kentucky Heartwood and Heartwood pointed out that the plan analysis failed to address the forest-wide impacts of herbicide use. The Forest Service claimed that analysis need only take place when a particular project is approved. The judge agreed with the agency without addressing the fact that at the project level the Forest Service continues to fail to consider the cumulative impacts of forest-wide herbicide use.
Chris Schimmoeller, boardmember of Kentucky Heartwood, stated, "At a time when the devastating effects of long-term, cumulative herbicide exposure are becoming well known, we are extremely disappointed that Judge Forester was fooled by the Forest Service’s shell game."
For more information:
Jim Scheff, Kentucky Heartwood Director
Heartwood Forest Watch Director
Kentucky Heartwood Council Member
(502) 226-5751, ext. 3