Last Thursday California federal judge John A. Mendez found that the U.S. Forest Service didn’t take a hard enough look at the alternatives to a timber project in California’s Mendocino National Forest. Citing the Forest Service’s lack of a “hard look” at the project alternatives to avoid impacts on the northern spotted owl, including one posited last-minute by the Conservation Congress environmental group. The judge stated that the government arbitrarily and capriciously failed to consider more conservation-friendly options. The environmental group Conservation Congress (an organization who claims it “speaks” for “trees” and “native wildlife”) sued the Forest Service in 2013, arguing that the Environmental Impact Statement’s analysis of reasonable alternatives was inadequate and saying the agency failed to consider its proposal for a viable alternative that would be friendlier to the owl.

The case is Conservation Congress v. U.S. Forest Service et al., case number 2:13-cv-01977, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.