WASHINGTON – The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and other organizations filed a lawsuit against the US Forest Service (USFS), challenging a forest planning rule.

Under the National Forest Management Act, USFS is required to establish regulations using the principles of the Multiple-Use, Sustained Yield Act. The regulations set out the process for development and revision of land management plans, guidelines and standards. Individual forests follow the direction of the planning rule and develop specific management plans.

NCBA said that the general focus of the new forest planning rule is on ecosystem services, sustainability, preservation and “spiritual values” over multiple-use. The plaintiffs in the case said this new focus is a diversion from current statutes governing management national forests.

NCBA, along with the Public Lands Council and the American Sheep Industry Association, claim that the new planning rule contains vague language that could spur more litigation by special interest groups. The groups also contend that the rule is overreaching by turning guidelines that are discretionary into legally enforceable standards.

“We find it unfortunate that our industry must resort to legal action against the USFS," said Dustin Van Liew, PLC executive director and NCBA director of Federal Lands. "This is something that could have been avoided if the agency had been responsive to our specific comments about the rule’s pervasive legal overreach.”