Federal agencies violated the Endangered Species Act by developing plans for four national forests in California without adequately addressing the impact on endangered animals, a judge ruled.
The judge's order will require estimates of how forest projects may harm endangered or threatened plants and animals such as the California condor and the gnatcatcher.
"This ruling is a great victory for the rare and endangered species that call the Southern California forests home," said Ileene Anderson, a biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the groups that sued the federal agencies.
The U.S. Forest Service revised its plans for the Cleveland, Los Padres and San Bernardino forests in 2005, laying out how the land and resources would be overseen for the next decade, including the management of roads, trails and recreation.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service provided estimates on the potential impact of these plans on wildlife, but critics said they didn't include required measures to minimize harm to endangered species.
Judge Marilyn Hall Patel ruled Monday in San Francisco that the agencies did not follow the species protection law by omitting statements detailing how the forest plans may harm endangered species. The agencies said they planned to do so when specific projects were undertaken.