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 Pombo PRESS RELEASE - House Committee on Resources 6/14/06

Walden statement on Journal of Forestry Report
showing forest service's strong litigation success rate


Study finds judges have ruled in favor of Forest Service
in nearly three-quarters of lawsuits filed against them

WASHINGTON - A new study released yesterday in the peer-reviewed Journal of Forestry shows that judges have ruled in favor of the USDA Forest Service (USFS) in nearly three-quarters of cases presented to them against the agency.

Researchers from the College of Environmental Science and Forestry at the State University of New York (SUNY) and the USFS found that the USFS won 73 percent of cases filed against them in which a judge made the final determination. Of the 729 total land management cases filed against the USFS between 1989 and 2002, 61 percent of cases were won by the agency or withdrawn by the plaintiffs.

U.S. Congressman Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chairman of the House Resource Committee's Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health, today issued the following statement:

"Given the complexity of the overlapping laws that affect forest management and the differing court interpretations of those laws, it is remarkable that the professionals in the U.S. Forest Service prevail nearly three-quarters of the time in court.

"It's a real drain on the Forest Service to have to battle in court so often, and it must be very frustrating to the professional foresters who spend their time and resources fighting frivolous lawsuits, rather than implementing forest stewardship programs. This comprehensive report helps policymakers better understand the scope and outcome of the litigation that plagues our Forest Service. It sure would be nice if we could develop more collaborative approaches to forest stewardship - as we've done in the Healthy Forests Restoration Act and as we are working to do in the Forest Emergency Recovery and Research Act - so we can bring people together in a positive effort to improve forest management and avoid unnecessary and costly litigation."

Containing just under 13 percent of lands within the national forest system, Oregon and Washington experienced nearly 30 percent of all litigation filed against the USFS.  More information on the SUNY report can be found at www.safnet.org/periodicals/fslitigation.

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