For immediate release
October 14, 2010
Josh Laughlin, Cascadia Wildlands, 541.434.1463, email@example.com
Doug Heiken, Oregon Wild , 541.344.0675, firstname.lastname@example.org
Susan Jane Brown, Western Environmental Law Center, 503-914-1323, email@example.com
Conservation Organizations Challenge Decade-Old Logging Plan Above Renowned McKenzie River
EUGENE – Working to halt an outdated timber sale originally proposed over ten years ago, two conservation organizations filed a lawsuit today in federal district court. The legal challenge by Cascadia Wildlands and Oregon Wild takes aim at the Willamette National Forest’s Trapper timber sale above the McKenzie River, which proposes to log 157 acres of mature and old-growth forest.
The U.S. Forest Service first proposed the timber sale in 1998 and has failed to address significant new information that has arisen since the agency issued a decision on the project in 2003.
“The McKenzie is Eugene’s backyard recreation paradise,” says Kate Ritley, Executive Director of Cascadia Wildlands. “The McKenzie’s forests filter our drinking water and shelter all kinds of wildlife. We need to protect these precious forests for future generations, not destroy them for short-term profits.”
In the ten years since the project was planned a pair of threatened northern spotted owls has taken up residence in the vicinity of the timber sale. According to new research data, the species continues a downward population trend both range-wide and in a large study area that encompasses the logging project. Additionally, the Forest Service logging plan fails to protect dozens of red tree vole nests located in the project area. The red tree vole is a small mammal that lives in older conifer forests and is required protection when its nests are located. The vole is also a major food source for the northern spotted owl. Because of these factors and other threats to the species, the conservation organizations believe protections from harmful timber sales are more warranted than ever.
The Trapper timber sale has been the subject of controversy before. On two past occasions, Cascadia Wildlands and Oregon Wild successfully challenged the species impacts opinion issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). USFWS is the federal agency in charge of recovering endangered species and had illegally issued opinions that would have allowed the Trapper timber sale to proceed despite negative effects to threatened wildlife.
“It is past time the Forest Service retire this reckless project for good,” says Doug Heiken, Conservation and Restoration Coordinator with Oregon Wild. “The agency has a choice between logging mature and old-growth forests on public lands above our treasured McKenzie River or identifying common-sense projects that benefit wildlife, protect the forest, and create jobs. It should be an easy choice.”
The groups believe the Forest Service should be spending limited taxpayer dollars on projects that restore degraded landscapes, like restoration thinning in tree plantations formed by past clearcutting, decommissioning harmful roads, and enhancing fish and wildlife habitat. The groups have offered to work with the Forest Service and the purchaser of the Trapper timber sale, Seneca Sawmill, to find replacement timber volume from less controversial areas. The purchaser has not expressed interest in this option. The Willamette National Forest has provided replacement volume to timber companies in the past when timber sales were mired in public controversy.
The organizations are being represented by attorneys at Western Environmental Law Center and Cascadia Wildlands.