Hyde State Park Lawsuit - June 2019 Update
U.S. District Court Judge James Parker has affirmed the SFNF's decision to clear and burn most trees over nearly 7 square miles in Hyde Park and Pacheco Canyon. Here's a summary of this disappointing decision.
First, Judge Parker ruled that an analysis of cumulative effects was NOT required in 2014 when the SFNF designated these forests (and nearly every acre of NFs in NM) as eligible for "treatment" to control insects and disease and reduce hazardous fuels.
Second, the judge rejected our argument that the minimal "categorical exclusions" prepared for these projects were nonetheless required to analyze cumulative impacts, especially to roadless forests with wilderness potential. His reasoning was based on the "plain language" of the amended Bush-era Healthy Forest Restoration Act.
This unfortunately gives credence to the FS strategy of avoiding taking the required "hard look" at cumulative impacts by characterizing entire landscapes as "unhealthy" and confining their analysis to smaller individual projects that when added up over time result in environmental devastation.
He also ruled the 1987 SFNF plan requiring preservation of 20% of each area as old growth didn't apply because large, old trees were rare and would not be cut. Evidence was ignored showing an apparent bias toward managing for younger forests.
These are the main points. See the attached opinion and our brief for more information.
Thanks to our attorney Tom Woodbury for his extraordinary effort!