Nossaman Attorney Battling U.S. Forest Service to Help Sierra Nevada Frog Survive
Nossaman Partner Paul Weiland was quoted in the Daily Journal article, "Nossaman Attorney Battling U.S. Forest Service to Help Sierra Nevada Frog Survive." The article discusses the diminishing number of Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frogs in the Upper Echo Lake due to projects being conducted by the US Forest Service.
Mr. Weiland has been in a court battle with the Forest Service over its failure to protect the frog while they cut, clear and collect trees that could potentially aid wildfires. "As those piles sit and begin to decompose, they can harm frogs by altering the chemical composition of the seasonal streams and ponds and eventually affect the water quality of Echo Lake itself," Weiland said.
Biologist Dennis Murphy, an Echo Lake resident who has previously worked with Mr. Weiland on other endangered species issues, asked Mr. Weiland to help convince the Forest Service to review the project and the damage it was doing to the area. "We want…to push the Forest Service to do what it should already be doing," Weiland said. "It's a steward of a huge portion of our nation's land and we want it to be a good steward".
It is estimated that yellow-legged frog populations have dropped more than 90 percent in recent years, making it an endangered species per the Endangered Species Act.
In the lawsuit filed by Mr. Weiland and Mr. Murphy, they claim the Forest Service violated the Endangered Species Act by failing to consult with the US Fish and Wildlife Service before conducting work in the Upper Lake Echo area. They also claim the Forest Service violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by failing to conduct an environmental analysis of the potential impacts on the area.
In response to the pressures of the lawsuit, the Forest Service recently agreed to consult with the wildlife agency, as well as stop all fuel reduction work in the area until an analysis can be completed. However, they still maintain they did in fact comply with NEPA, and therefore have argued to have the case dismissed. No court decision has been made regarding that issue.
Mr. Weiland, along with Benjamin Rubin and Kelly Percival have logged over 300 hours as they has continue the fight for the frogs. "This isn't a change the world project, but it's a beautiful little part of the world that should not be mismanaged," Weiland said.