San Francisco, CA
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered timber sales in ancient forest reserves in southwest Oregon stopped until the court can decide the case challenging the sales. Seven post-fire timber sales in the world-renowned Siskiyou Wild Rivers Area from the Biscuit fire are at issue. The Biscuit fire burned 500,000 acres in southwestern Oregon in 2002. The Bush administration announced plans to log almost 20,000 acres of mostly roadless and ancient forest reserves last spring. The Ninth Circuit’s ruling covers seven timber sales on 6,600 acres in old growth forest reserves. These reserves are designated primarily for fish and wildlife habitat under the Northwest Forest Plan, the 1994 policy implemented to protect the northern spotted owl and salmon from logging.
Conservation groups, represented by Earthjustice, argued that Bush administration plans to log the old growth reserves violate federal laws that protect ancient forests for wildlife and salmon and the public’s right to have a role in deciding the management of these public land.
“The court’s action today gives us a chance to find some balance here that will actually be good for the forests and the people in the region, instead of just logging everything in sight,” said Earthjustice attorney Todd True.
“These old growth forest reserves are vital for native fish and wildlife,” said David Bayles of Pacific Rivers Council, a plaintiff organization. “Logging in these reserves would destroy Oregon’s native forest and promote erosion that would pollute world class salmon and steelhead streams.”
“These ancient forest reserves were designed for forest protection, not forest destruction,” said Marc Fink, an attorney for the Western Environmental Law Center. “The Forest Service is using the Biscuit fire as an excuse to log large old trees that would otherwise be off limits.”
Logging threatens Fiddler Mountain
One of the old growth reserves in imminent danger from logging until the court ruling yesterday was in the Fiddler Mountain area, a popular recreation site. Recreational trails, including one of the most scenic trails in the Siskiyous, could be converted to a road to haul logs if the Fiddler sale is logged. Fiddler Mountain contains bubbling springs and streams that flow into the Wild and Scenic Illinois River, a major Pacific Coast salmon river. For more information go to the Siskiyou Project’s Fiddler Mountain page.
Plaintiffs include: Pacific Rivers Council, The Wilderness Society and Defenders of Wildlife represented by Earthjustice. The Sierra Club, Siskiyou Regional Education Project, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, Oregon Natural Resources Council and American Lands Alliance are being represented by the Western Environmental Law Center.