Elk NetworkFederal Judges Positively View Collaborative Forest Projects

Conservation | November 11, 2017

“A sea of change” may be taking place as federal judges take more of a positive view on collaborative forest restoration projects. A recent report highlighted two case studies that showed judges ruling against an environmental group that challenged citizen-stakeholder groups partnering with the U.S. Forest Service.

According to the author, there are three significant changes:

  • Federal judges are becoming more comfortable with the congressionally-blessed collaborative process that encourages diverse citizen-stakeholder groups to partner with the Forest Service in identifying, designing and monitoring forest restoration projects intended to restore natural resiliency in forests that hold too many trees for the carrying capacity of the land
  • Their rulings reflect a welcome sensitivity to and appreciation for the demanding and difficult work these all-volunteer groups are doing, as well as a much-improved understanding of observable forest decline and, likewise, a willingness to apply case law in ways that allow collaborative forest restoration projects to proceed
  • The U.S. Forest Service is doing much better project planning work than it did a decade ago

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation maintains that active forest management, including prescribed burning, thinning, noxious weed projects and managed logging, mitigate catastrophic wildfires as well as benefit wildlife habitat and overall forest health.

(Photo source: U.S. Geological Survey)