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Tongass Roadless Timber Sale Challenged

Victory: Decision to log made ten years ago, outdated
March 2, 2009
Juneau, AK —

A coalition of conservation groups filed a lawsuit today challenging a proposed timber sale in Thorne Arm on Revillagigedo Island near Ketchikan. The Orion North Reoffer timber sale proposes logging in Sea Level Creek, the last major intact, roadless watershed remaining on Thorne Arm in the Tongass National Forest.


"The day when this kind of timber sale made sense is long gone," said Carol Cairnes, president of the board of the Ketchikan-based Tongass Conservation Society. "Cutting these trees will not even bring in half the money the Forest Service will spend building a road to get to the trees."


The Forest Service first made the decision to offer the Orion North timber sale ten years ago in 1999. Today's lawsuit, filed by Tongass Conservation Society, Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace, and Cascadia Wildlands Project, argues that the Forest Service's decision is outdated.


"The Orion North timber sale has been on the books for a decade. Since then, timber prices have plummeted while the costs of timber sales to taxpayers have skyrocketed," said Kate Glover, an attorney with Earthjustice, the law firm representing the conservation groups. "There has also been a lot of new scientific research in that time. For example, we now know that deer habitat in Thorne Arm may barely be sufficient to support wolves and deer hunting. If the Forest Service keeps logging here, we could see restrictions on subsistence and recreational hunting in the future."


"The rest of Thorne Arm has already been hammered with clearcuts. People in Ketchikan use this last pristine area for fishing, hiking, and family outings -- the trees have more value standing than they do cut," said Cairnes.


The Tongass National Forest is the nation's biggest national forest at 17 million acres. Some 10 million acres of the forest were protected under the 2001 Roadless Rule until they were withdrawn by the Bush administration.  

Contacts

Carol Cairnes, Tongass Conservation Society, (907) 225-8908
Kate Glover, Earthjustice, (907) 586-2751

About Earthjustice

Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.