Eastern Oregon Timber Sale Blocked by Judge

The Olympian

"...eliminate any human involvement whatsoever in the management of forest lands." - Michael Dundy, Blue Mountain Biodiversity Project

PORTLAND, OREGON - 2/16/03-- A U.S. District judge has shut down six of seven planned timber sales in eastern Oregon's Malheur National Forest.

Judge Ancer L. Haggerty on Friday found that the U.S. Forest Service had illegally tried to squeeze the sales through a procedural shortcut that permits pruning and clearing of roadside brush.

He allowed just one sale, on a busy county road, in order to remove timber that could fall on the roadway. The decision blocked the same kind of shortcut the Bush administration has proposed using to speed small logging and thinning projects.

It was the fourth logging project Haggerty has stopped in eastern and central Oregon in the past year, on the grounds that federal foresters had not thoroughly examined the environmental impacts. Each was contested by Blue Mountain Biodiversity Project, which is based in Wheeler County.

A lawyer for D.R. Johnson Lumber Co., which bought four of the seven Malheur sales, had contended that the environmental group applied boilerplate arguments to stop the Malheur cutting when it was in the best interest of public safety.

Michael Dundy said the environmental group's goal is "to eliminate any human involvement whatsoever in the management of forest lands."

The Blue Mountain Biodiversity group, Dundy said, "wants to condition the courts of Oregon so that when they utter the magic words, there is only one right way of deciding the case."

But Haggerty disagreed. Instead, he said, the Forest Service could easily have completed a public review so the Malheur logging could proceed legally.

Cutting the 15,000 trees -- about 1.7 million board feet -- violates a federal provision that allows pruning and removal of limited trees that involve minimal environmental impacts, the judge said.


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