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Suit Filed to Force Washington State to Respond to Salmon Emergency

Washington state conservation groups file petition with Thurston County Superior Court challenging the validity of the current forest practices rules as promulgated by the state's Forest Practices Board.
November 5, 1998
Olympia, WA -- — 
Washington state conservation groups today filed a petition with the Thurston County Superior Court challenging the validity of the current forest practices rules as promulgated by the state's Forest Practices Board.

The groups, including Northwest Ecosystem Alliance, the Mountaineers, Pilchuck Audubon Society, Alpine Lakes Protection Society, Kettle Range Conservation Group, and the Whidbey Environmental Action Network, charge that forest practices on state and private lands are pushing endangered salmon toward extinction, and causing serious damage to clean water, other fish and wildlife, private property, and the recreational and scenic value of forest lands in the state.

Attorneys for the six conservation groups, Todd True of Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund and Peter Goldman of Environmental Law Support Associates, said they would press for an early hearing on the complaint. If the court agrees that current forest practice rules do not comply with the state Forest Practices Act, this case could deliver potentially groundbreaking results for Washington's environment.

Mitch Friedman, Executive Director of Northwest Ecosystem Alliance, issued the following statement on behalf of the plaintiffs in the suit:

"Under Washington state-approved forest practice rules, you'd have to undergo a more extensive environmental review to put up a roadside ice cream stand than to clearcut 240 acres adjacent to a salmon-bearing stream. Since 1974, 99% of logging operations on state and private lands have been exempt from any environmental review. Thousands of miles of streams, dozens of runs of wild salmon, steelhead and trout, and thousands of acres of private property have suffered dramatically from destructive forest practices and inadequate watershed analyses approved by the state. Decades of talks, study, and delay tactics by the timber industry have produced no consensus recommendations on how and when forest practices will be improved to protect our environment. While the salmon runs continue to die off from loss of habitat, science has been pushed aside in favor of special interest politics. Sadly, the citizens of Washington have no alternative but to go to the Court to seek the changes necessary to protect our public resources."

Copies of the complaint are available. Please call Kristin Hyde Block, EMS, 206-405-3340.


Contact:
Kristin Hyde Block, Environmental Media Services
(206) 405-3340