Forests & Forestry

California’s forests are governed by a number of laws including the Forest Practice Act, CEQA, the California and federal Endangered Species Acts, and local regulation. SMW assists clients seeking to protect forest resources. The firm understands the interplay of federal, state and local laws affecting logging and conversion of timberlands. We advise local governments on the scope of their regulatory authority over forests. The firm also represents environmental and community groups challenging actions that threaten forests and forest resources. Examples of SMW’s forestry work include:

  • Santa Cruz County: The firm successfully defended the County against a lumber company’s claim that the County’s restrictions on logging were preempted by the Forest Practice Act, resulting in a landmark decision of the California Supreme Court, Big Creek Lumber Co. v. County of Santa Cruz, 38 Cal.4th 1139 (2006).
  • Headwaters Forest: The firm represented the State of California in negotiations over the purchase and protection of the Headwaters Forest in Humboldt County and the development of an HCP covering 200,000 acres.
  • Mountain Meadows Conservancy: After the firm submitted extensive comments to the California Department of Forestry critical of a logging plan that would have led to the construction of a ski resort on the shore of Mountain Meadows Reservoir in Lassen County, the plan was withdrawn.
  • Environmental Protection Information Center: The firm successfully brought suit against the California Department of Fish and Game to protect the Scott Bar Salamander, an endangered species threatened by timber harvesting in Siskiyou County.
  • Friends of Lassen Forest: In May 2009, in a settlement reached in response to a CEQA suit filed by the firm on behalf of Friends of Lassen Forest, the County of Lassen rescinded its approval of an application by Sierra Pacific Industries to rezone over 5,000 acres of timberland for development.