EXPERIENCE

Client:

Green Diamond Resource Company is a fifth-generation, family-owned sustainable and working forest products company. Green Diamond owns and manages 1.3 million acres of working forests in California, Oregon, and Washington.

Issue:

Green Diamond operates under the toughest forest practice regulations found anywhere—regulations have been developed to protect water quality, soils, fish, wildlife species, sensitive plants and archeological sites. In 1992, Green Diamond was the first company to receive approval for a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) for the Northern Spotted Owl. In 2000, a multispecies HCP covering the Company’s timberland management in the state of Washington was approved by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service (collectively, Services). By 2011, Green Diamond had acquired more land outside the area covered by the HCP approved in 2000 and wished to add 53,000 acres to the HCP, some of which included state-protected habitat for the Marbled Murrelet, a species listed as “threatened” under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Challenge:

Our client needed to modify its multispecies HCP to include additional lands and management prescriptions without excessive process and red tape.

Solution:

The Perkins Coie team researched the regulations and case law applicable to modifying or amending HCPs under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), calling upon the attorneys’ wealth of experience in working with regulatory agencies.

In seeking the approval of the Services to modify its HCP, Green Diamond was able to rely on existing environmental and species analyses, as well as the extensive monitoring data it had collected during the previous 10 years in implementing the HCP. The use of previous analyses and recent monitoring data allowed Green Diamond to avoid the significant cost and delay associated with duplicative ESA and NEPA analyses. This resulted in timely approval of the amended HCP, which allowed for quicker on-the-ground implementation of improved management prescriptions.