In February 2002, conservation groups and the Forest Service agreed to eliminate 27,000 acres of roadless areas and sensitive native fish habitat from portions of the Bitterroot National Forest being offered by the Forest Service to loggers. The settlement, the result of court-ordered mediation, will allow some logging to proceed in a burned over portion of the national forest, almost none of it in roadless areas.
Originally the Forest Service called for logging 41,000 acres. The settlement also preserves citizens' rights to appeal future Forest Service timber sale decisions
Conservation groups filed suit in December after US Department of Agriculture Under Secretary Mark Rey, a former timber industry lobbyist, announced his decision to approve the massive timber sale and exempt the project from the public's right to administrative appeal. Earthjustice lawyers asked federal judge Donald Molloy to stop the Forest Service from allowing logging to go forward until the public's legal right to pursue an administrative appeal was restored.
Judge Molloy first issued a temporary restraining order followed by a preliminary injunction that put a hold on the proposed timber sale. The Forest Service appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals which turned them down and the mediation ensued.
Earthjustice attorneys Doug Honnold, Tim Preso, and Abigail Dillen represented American Wildlands, Pacific Rivers Council, and The Wilderness Society in the litigation.