DC Circuit rejects timber group lawsuit over owl habitat

By Pamela King | 03/05/2024 01:16 PM EST

“It would have been pointless” to rule on delays that have since expired, wrote one judge.

The northern spotted owl.

The northern spotted owl. Frank D. Lospalluto/Flickr

A federal appeals court Tuesday threw out a logging group’s lawsuit over the delay of a Trump-era habitat reduction for a vulnerable owl — a cutback the Biden administration has since reversed.

The unanimous ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit agrees with a decision from a lower bench that said a timber trade group and West Coast counties no longer had grounds to sue the Interior Department for slow-walking the Trump administration’s decision to remove millions of acres of critical habitat for the threatened northern spotted owl in the Pacific Northwest.

“As the district court correctly determined, it would have been pointless to render a judgment on the validity of the First and Second Delay Rules,” wrote Senior Judge Douglas Ginsburg, a Reagan appointee.


“Both rules had by then expired and had no continuing effect,” he continued.