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“Sunny Oaks” logging project in Wayne National Forest violates NEPA, federal district court rules

The OEC maintains USFS is violating its own forest plan by refusing to protect important white oak trees

In a partial win for Ohio’s only national forest, federal district court (Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division) ruled that the U.S. Forest Service-authorized Sunny Oaks logging project violates the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). In ruling on that violation, the court held that the Sunny Oaks project’s environmental effects are “highly uncertain.”

On Sept. 9, 2021, the Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) filed a lawsuit, Ohio Environmental Council v. U.S. Forest Service, to stop the implementation of the Sunny Oaks logging project. Sunny Oaks is a USFS project authorizing the logging of 2,485 acres of the Wayne National Forest. The project also authorizes several miles of road construction, tens-of-thousands of acres of prescribed fire and herbicide application, and hundreds of miles of bulldozer line development through the Wayne National Forest.

This case is also not yet fully resolved. The court has requested additional briefing before issuing a final order on the fate of the unlawful Sunny Oaks project. The OEC will continue fighting for the protection of healthy, awe-inspiring public forests.

The following quote can be attributed, in whole or in part, to Nathan Johnson, Director of Public Lands for the Ohio Environmental Council (OEC):

“This ruling is an important and hard-fought legal victory. For the protection of the environment, for the OEC and for our thousands of members and supporters.

“The court held that the effectively ‘unlimited discretion’ the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) gave itself to implement Sunny Oaks violates NEPA and renders the logging project’s environmental effects ‘highly uncertain.’

“However, the OEC strongly disagrees with portions of the court’s opinion. The Forest Service is blatantly violating the National Forest Management Act (NFMA) and its own rules by refusing to protect loose-barked trees, like white oaks, that the Wayne’s forest plan requires be protected.”


The Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) is the state’s most comprehensive and effective environmental advocate for a healthier, more sustainable Ohio. The OEC develops and ensures the implementation of forward-thinking, science-based, pragmatic solutions to secure healthy air, land, and water for all who call Ohio home.

Contact: Marisa Twigg or 614-487-5837