Boise owl award overturned
truffler1635 at my-deja.com
truffler1635 at my-deja.com
Thu Nov 11 23:03:09 EST 1999
>From The Oregonian, Nov. 11, p B1
COURT OVERTURNS $2.3 MILLION AWARD TO BOISE CASCADE
Oregon had been ordered to pay for logging restritions imposed to
protect spotted owls
By JONATHAN BRINCKMAN, The Oregonian
The Orgon Court of Appeals on Wednesday overturned a damage award
that ordered the state to pay Boise Cascade Corp. $2.3 million in
compensation for logging restrictions imposed to protect a pair of
northern spotted owls nesting on its land.
State forestry officials and conservationists expressed relief at
the decision, saying it upheld the state's right to protect endangered
wildlife without paying landowners.
"This gives us back our legs to stand on," said Ted Lorensen,
director of the forest practices program for the Department of Forestry.
More was at stake in the case then the 64-acre parcel in Clatsop
County that could not be logged because of a nearby northern spotted owl
If the Clatsop County Circuit Court ruling had stood, it would have
weakened the state's authority to prohibit many activities that threaten
wildlife -- including logging, construction and other development --
without compensating landowners for lost profit.
But the appeals court decision did not entirely resolve the question
of whether governments must compensate landowners when government
actions lower property vaoues.
That issue remains one of the great uncertainties in environmental
law. It could affect everything from rules to protect endangered
wildlife to laws restricting development in flood plains or in coastal
areas vulnerable to erosion.
Phillip Chadsey, the attorney reprsenting Boise Cascade, said
Wednesday the paper and wood-products manufacturer would appeal to the
Oregon Surpeme Court. It will also continue a separate challenge in U.S.
court to federal logging restrictions, he said.
"We've just had a ste backward here," Chadsey said. "This matter is
The Appeals Court ruled that the Circuit Court jury erred when it
awarded damages to Boise Cascade because the company had not exhausted
its legal options. For example, the court said. Boise Cascade could have
requested permission from the federal government to log the land as long
as it took steps to protect the owls. The bird is listed as threatened
under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
The panel did not address the question of whether the state could
enforce rules that lowered the value of Boise Cascade's logging parcel.
That leaves state officials uneasy.
"We will have t deal with the compensation issue," said Lorensen of
the Forestry Department. "They didn't address the issue with regard to
the actual taking of the property."
Still, conservationists and environmental legal experts said they
were happy with the decision.
Paul Ketchum, conservation director for the Audubon Society of
Portland, said it left Oregon's existing environmental laws intact. "The
court's ruling is a big boost of the Oregon Board of Forestry and their
efforts to protect endangered species habitat," he said.
John Echeverria, a professor of environmental law at Georgetwon
University in Washington, D.C., said the ruling is significant because
it overturned a precedent-setting lower court decision that could have
jeoardized environmental laws across the country.
"The case it overturned would have undrmined the public's right to
protection of wildlife," Echeverria said.
Provided as a courtesy by
Daniel B. Wheeler
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