5 May 2010, 11:00pm
Latest Forest News
by admin

Court upholds timber sales in Tongass Nat’l Forest

By MARY PEMBERTON (AP), Google News, May 3, 2010 [here]

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Two conservation groups have failed to stop four timber sale offerings they say threaten a rare species of wolf that lives in the Tongass National Forest.

Greenpeace and Cascadia Wildlands Project filed a lawsuit two years ago accusing the U.S. Forest Service of violating federal environmental laws when planning for the sales.

Together, the timber sales amount to 30 million board-feet of Tongass timber — about the same as was harvested last year from the nation’s largest national forest.

U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Beistline found no wrongdoing on the part of the Forest Service, describing the problem as more of a “scientific disagreement” rather than an error by the agency. He said the Forest Service conducted an extensive environmental analysis of the four projects in the national forest that covers about 26,500 square miles — more than the entire state of West Virginia.

Tongass Forest Supervisor Forrest Cole said Monday that the timber industry has changed since the projects were planned with the idling of another mill in southeast Alaska.

Pacific Log and Lumber, one of the mills that might have been interested in the largest of the timber sales, is no longer operating on Gravina Island. The company’s website says, “Extreme pressure from environmental groups combined with the inability of the Forest Service to implement change rapidly has resulted in insufficient log supply to sustain milling operations on a continuous basis.”

Cole said that generally when timber sales face legal challenges, they are not put up for bid until those issues are resolved. He said he’s glad the legal issues have been resolved for now.

“I am pleased to be out of District Court and at a place to at least look at what opportunities we have available,” Cole said.

Greenpeace and Cascadia Wildlands sought a court order to stop the projects … [more]



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