Endangered species get new aid

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California’s Supreme Court gave new protection to the state’s endangered species Thursday, ruling unanimously that developers, loggers and other commercial interests may be required to compensate for unforeseen wildlife losses. Times staff writer Maura Dolan reports:

The ruling, which affects both public works and private development, threw out a long-term logging plan approved by the state for 200,000 acres in Humboldt County, a plan that lower courts put on hold several years ago. The state high court said the Department of Forestry had approved an ‘unidentifiable’ plan that was still a work in progress and then delegated its completion to the logging company. Justice Carlos R. Moreno, writing for the court, called the Forestry Department’s action illegal and an abrogation of its duties. The California Department of Forestry ‘failed to proceed according to law,’ Moreno wrote. The decision grew out of lawsuits that followed the historic Headwaters Agreement, a 1996 pact between Pacific Lumber Co. and the state and federal governments. It was designed to resolve litigation and disputes over the logging of old-growth forests.