Today, in Alliance for Wild Rockies v. Savage, the 9th Circuit ruled the Forest Service violated Kootenai national forest plan standards that regulate road densities to protect grizzly bears.
A Venn diagram would help explain the court’s reasoning, but since I don’t know how to draw one on-line, here’s a silly analogy.
Imagine a two-humped camel that has spent her long life carrying straws. Now old, weak and feeble, the vet advises, “No more straws should be put on your camel or she will collapse and die.” Chastened, the owner counts the straws — 1,000.
To simplify future straw management, the owner decides that from now on he will add and remove straws only from the camel’s small front hump, which carries 20 straws; the other 980 straws being on the large hump.
The owner dutifully keeps a running tally of the straws he adds and removes from the front hump. But, unbeknownst to him, his wife has been surreptitiously adding straws to the camel’s rear. In fact, some of the original 1,000 straws were probably hers, but no one knows for sure because the old straw records are missing.
The next day, the owner puts 6 new straws on his camel and, in an abundance of caution, removes 8, figuring that having only 18 straws on the small hump will provide a safety margin for his aging camel.
A day later, the camel dies. The vet is called. “Why did my camel die?” the owner asks mournfully. “I was careful to never have more than 20 straws on the front hump.”
“There were 1,452 straws on this camel!” exclaims the vet. “I told you your camel could tolerate no more than 1,000.”
“It was a smelly camel, anyway” his wife mutters, as she sweeps up the straws.