Description: Challenge to approval of timber harvesting plan.
Forest Preservation Society v. Department of Forestry & Fire Protection
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 08/28/2018 Opinion Download Opinion issued affirming trial court judgment upholding timber harvesting plan. California Appellate Court Upheld Cumulative Greenhouse Gas Analysis for Timber Harvesting Plan. In an unpublished opinion, the California Court of Appeal affirmed a trial court decision upholding the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s (CDF’s) approval of a timber harvesting plan. The court rejected arguments that CDF failed to meet its obligations under the California Environmental Quality Act and the Forest Practices Act to consider the plan’s cumulative impacts on greenhouse gas emissions. First, the appellate court declined to “second guess” CDF’s use of the California Air Resources Board’s Climate Change Scoping Plan (as revised in 2014) as the threshold for significance, rather than greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets for 2020 and 2050 established by executive order. Second, the Court of Appeal found that substantial evidence supported the conclusion that cumulative impacts on global warming would be insignificant. The court rejected a number of arguments attacking CDF’s analysis, including assertions that numerical calculations were required to support carbon sequestration projections, that the cumulative impacts analysis was flawed because it was based on carbon levels on the timber company’s total ownership rather than only on the land subject to the timber harvesting plan, and that CDF acted “outside the norm” by focusing on future net carbon conditions rather than on existing or short-term carbon conditions. The appellate court also rejected the argument that reversal of the trial court’s decision was required because the projections of future tree growth were not enforceable.