January 25, 2013

Central coast forest association petitions the California Supreme Court

By Anthony L. Francois Senior Attorney

In December, the California Court of Appeal ruled, in Central Coast Forest Assoc. v. California Fish & Game Comm., that one may not petition the California Fish and Game Commission to de-list a species, under the California Endangered Species Act, on the basis that the species was not eligible for listing in the first instance.  The import of the ruling in Central Coast Forest Assoc. is that the only way a species can be de-listed is if it has recovered, or it is extinct.  There are other significant and perverse procedural impacts of the ruling.

This week the Central Coast Forest Association and Big Creek Lumber Company petitioned the California Supreme Court for review of this decision.  The Court has a sound basis to grant review, since the scope of the Commission’s authority to de-list a species is an important question of state law.  Significant public resources are expended in the effort to recover a listed species.  If the experience in Siskiyou County is any guide, even more significant private property and other resources will be encumbered by recovery plans for Coho in particular, especially where state and federal listings overlap.  To avoid these costs where they are not warranted, it is necessary for the Commission to be able to de-list species that did not actually warrant listing in the first instance.

Thus, this would a very important case for the Court to grant review, and to ultimately reverse the Court of Appeal’s decision.

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