Idaho: Enviros cave-in on litigation on the Moose Creek Timber Sale!

The U.S. Forest Service settled a lawsuit filed by environmentalists
fighting a central Idaho timber sale by agreeing to scale back logging
that was meant to reduce fuels near the town of Salmon. In May, the
Missoula, Mont.-based Alliance for the Wild Rockies won an order from
U.S. District Court Judge Edward Lodge to halt the Salmon-Challis
National Forest’s 1,486-acre Moose Creek timber sale, which had been
approved in 2006. According to a pact signed this week by both sides
that resolves the litigation, work will now be limited to timber
cutting in several areas that a local logger had purchased before the
lawsuit was filed in 2007. The Salmon-Challis National Forest also
agreed to stop logging old growth stands greater than 80 acres and
apply heightened scrutiny to future commercial logging – at least
until it updates the Land and Resource Management Plan it uses to
manage its 4.3 million acre territory.

The agency also must pay the
environmental group’s $23,000 legal bill. In its lawsuit, the Alliance
argued the Moose Creek project, which could have resulted in nine
million board feet of lumber, would have allowed clearcuts on
old-growth forests home to species such as boreal owls and northern
goshawks. Both are considered sensitive species in the northern Rocky
Mountains requiring special attention when decisions are made about
the forests where they live. “The Forest Service…agreed to protect
old growth forests throughout the Salmon National Forest and old
growth dependent species instead of pressing ahead on clearcutting,”
said Michael Garrity, the group’s executive director. “This is an
important step in stopping the decline in these species and keeping
them off the Endangered Species list.” When the environmental group
sued just over a year ago, it contended Salmon-Challis National Forest
supervisor William Wood violated federal environmental laws by failing
to scrutinize whether the Moose Creek sale would negatively affect
species such as the owls and goshawks, as well as fishers, wolverines,
three-toed woodpeckers, and great gray owls. Among other things, the
group argued Wood wasn’t meeting the Forest Service’s own requirement
to maintain at least 10 percent old growth trees outside wilderness
areas to help dependent species. That amounted to at least 71,879
acres. On May 18, Judge Lodge sided with the Alliance for the Wild
Rockies and told loggers to halt work at Moose Creek, located within
just a few miles of Salmon. “At most, the Salmon National Forest has
69,880 acres of verified old growth or of stands capable of being
managed for old growth characteristics, significantly short of the 10
percent requirement,” Lodge wrote. “The court believes that the record
presents serious questions as to whether the Salmon National Forest’s
implementation of the old growth standard is currently in compliance.”
Neither Wood nor Salmon-Challis National Forest spokesman Kent
Fuellenbach returned phone calls Saturday afternoon seeking comment.
According to the settlement, one reason why the sides reached the pact
was that further litigation would waste taxpayer money.

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Comments (2)

green cardJanuary 22nd, 2009 at 1:38 pm

Is there any information about this subject in other languages?

Reply: My sense of it is that it gets translated into other languages via online search / translation services and as time goes by those machine-based translations are getting much, much better! When it comes to articles in other languages that need to be translated into english so I can post em, I’m in need of that! Especially new articles from Latin America. They are in short supply as English language versions! –Editor, Forest Policy Research

greencardJanuary 22nd, 2009 at 1:38 pm

These are not surprising my anymore, but thanks..

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