River and forest conservation groups today turned to the federal courts to protect old growth reserves in the world-renowned Siskiyou Wild Rivers Area. The groups are asking a judge to halt a Bush administration plan to log old growth reserves in violation of federal laws that protect water quality, salmon and the public’s right to have input in the management of public land. The groups are also asking for quick action to stop two logging projects in old growth reserves set to go on the auction block on Friday; the Fiddler Mountain timber sale and the Berry timber sale. Trees could start falling in these reserves in a matter of days.
“The federal government is putting the logging of these old growth reserves on a fast track,” said attorney Todd True of Earthjustice. “There is not a lot of time left to save these special forest reserves and recreational areas.”
“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 will destroy Oregon’s native forest and promote erosion that will pollute world class salmon and steelhead streams.”
“Old growth 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 trees that would otherwise be off limits.”
Logging threatens Fiddler Mountain
One of the old growth reserves in imminent danger from logging is in the Fiddler Mountain area, a popular recreation site for people in the area. Recreational trails, including one of the most scenic trails in the Siskiyous, will be converted to logging unit boundaries or roads to haul logs. Fiddler Mountain also 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.
“Fiddler Mountain is a beautiful place that deserves to be protected,” said Don Smith, executive Director of the Siskiyou Project in nearby Cave Junction. “Many local people enjoy this area for its scenic beauty and wonderful hiking trails. This is not a place for a massive timber sale.”
Discussions over other sales continues
Meanwhile conservation groups are in discussions with the Forest Service about other sales in the Siskiyou Wild Rivers Area. In the spirit of compromise, the groups may allow some sales outside of old growth reserves to go forward if the Forest Service agrees to changes that will make the logging less environmentally destructive.
Plaintiffs include: Pacific Rivers Council, The Wilderness Society, Sierra Club, Siskiyou Regional Education Project, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, Oregon Natural Resources Council, American Lands Alliance, and Defenders of Wildlife are represented by Earthjustice and the Western Environmental Law Center.