In a decision issued today, the Ninth Circuit found that the “Lake Tahoe Forest Plan did not require the Forest Service to
demonstrate at the project level that the Angora Fire Restoration Project would maintain viable population levels of management indicator species, including the black-backed woodpecker” (Earth Island Institute v. U.S. Forest Service, 11-16718).
The court thus concluded that “the Forest Service’s analysis of the Angora Project’s impact on the black-backed woodpecker’s habitat was not arbitrary and capricious under [the National Forest Management Act].”
In their project-level analyses, the Forest Service is required only to discuss the effects on Management Indicator Species, not to ensure their viability, the court said.
“The Angora Project . . . creates twelve “wildlife snag zones” within the treated areas that would be subject to limited or no snag removal in order to address further concerns about providing habitat for species such as the black-backed woodpecker. The agency determined that about half of the habitat that is suitable for black-backed woodpecker habitat in
the relevant area would be retained. The Forest Service concluded that the Project would not “lead to a change in the distribution of black-backed woodpecker[s] across the Sierra Nevada bioregion.”
The Angora Project also creates twelve “wildlife snag
zones” within the treated areas that would be subject to lim-