In an unprecedented settlement, Umpqua Watersheds announced today that the federal government has committed $40,000 for forest restoration work as sanctions for illegal logging that occurred during the final days of 2001. The Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Land Management, the Coquille Tribe, and Umpqua Watersheds will meet during the next 30 days to prioritize restoration projects to be funded in the Big Creek watershed, downstream from where the illegal logging occurred, northeast of Myrtle Point, Oregon
In late December 2001 and early January 2002, the BIA allowed Lone Rock Timber to log a timber sale that had previously been stopped by court order due to risks to protected coho salmon. A federal district court judge granted an emergency motion to Umpqua Watersheds that halted further illegal logging. Unfortunately, the emergency motion was too late for several acres of native forests that were already clear-cut.
“The restoration fund agreement settles a motion for sanctions against the government for this illegal conduct,” said Kristen Boyles an attorney with Earthjustice.
“We can’t put these big trees back; they are gone forever,” said Francis Eatherington of Umpqua Watersheds. “But the money for restoration work can help undo some of the environmental harm.”
“The government allowed harmful logging to go forward, and now they are required to do the right thing by funding restoration,” said Penny Lind, Executive Director of Umpqua Watersheds. “We also hope that these sanctions serve as a deterrent to future illegal logging.”
The environmental groups, represented by Earthjustice, include Umpqua Watersheds, Oregon Natural Resources Council, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, and Institute for Fisheries Resources.