Part of “Healthy Forests” law struck down by court for skirting eco-reviews
A key part of the Bush administration’s “Healthy Forests” law, passed in 2003, was effectively struck down this week by a federal appeals court. The “hazardous fuels reduction” rule let the U.S. Forest Service get out of analyzing the environmental impacts of timber sales up to 1,000 acres in size and prescribed burns up to 4,500 acres — at least until after the sales and burns had already happened. The judges ordered a lower court to issue an injunction halting fuel-reduction projects under the law that were filed after October 2004 when the Sierra Club and Sierra Forest Legacy filed the lawsuit. The appeals court also ruled that the Forest Service caused “irreparable injury” by not appropriately studying the cumulative environmental impacts of logging and/or burning more than 1.2 million acres of national forest lands each year.