In what it considers a vast error in judgment, the Ruffed Grouse Society (RGS) has filed an amicus curiae brief with the Supreme Court, regarding a 2011 ruling by the 9th Circuit Court in California in which the court ruled that rainwater runoff from forest roads that is caused by timber harvest activity is an “industrial pollutant”.

As is noted in the brief, this ruling applies to all landowners, including private individuals, who typically have little knowledge of, or expertise with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)permitting processes. If required to go through an EPA permitting process, the cost and complexity of this process would greatly discourage private individuals from implementing a timber harvest on their lands – this would drastically reduce habitat availability for ruffed grouse, woodcock and the other wildlife that depend on young forests habitats today created only through timber harvest.

“This decision overturned 35 years of regulatory interpretation. Prior to this ruling, the “silvicultural exemption” in the Clean Water Act allowed this type of runoff to be treated as a “nonindustrial source,” said John B. Eichinger, RGS President and CEO.

“The 9th Circuit’s ruling places an absurd regulatory burden on individual private landowners that would lead to drastic reductions in wildlife habitat development on private forest lands. Millions of acres of important young forest habitats will be lost over time if this ruling is allowed to stand. We certainly hope that the Supreme Court will overturn this ill-advised regulatory mandate,” said Dan Dessecker, RGS Director of Conservation Policy.

The Ruffed Grouse Society filed its brief on August 28th, 2012,  The Supreme Court will review theRGS brief, as well as those filed by other interests, and hear oral arguments in early December. The Court is expected to release a ruling early in 2013.

Established in 1961, the Ruffed Grouse Society is the one international wildlife conservation organization dedicated to promoting conditions suitable for ruffed grouse, American woodcock and related wildlife to sustain our sport hunting tradition and outdoor heritage.

Information on RGS, its mission, management projects and membership can be found on the web

Image courtesy Ruffed Grouse Society

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