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Judge's Order Halts Logging Plan in Montana's

For Immediate Release: January 8, 2002
Judge's Order Halts Logging Plan in Montana's Bitterroot National Forest:

Ruling Says, "In electing to disregard the express mandate of Congress the Forest Service is acting without
authority."
MISSOULA, MONTANA - Late Monday evening a federal
judge issued a court order barring the U.S. Forest Service from logging 44,000 of acres of burned trees from the Bitterroot National Forest in Montana, saying the agency had violated its own rules in approving the plan.

The Bitterroot Logging Plan is the largest post-fire
logging plan in U.S. Forest Service history. The agency in attempting to log over 176 million board feet of timber from the already recovering forest -- enough trees to fill log trucks lined up end to end for over 300 miles. Under the proposed plan, over 50% of the logging would take place in roadless areas or core bull trout or westslope Cutthroat trout habitat.

U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy said Monday the
decision to bypass an internal Forest Service appeals process was illegal and violated the public's right to be involved in the decision-making process.

"It is presumptuous to believe that the agency's final
decision has a perfection about it that would not be illuminated by interested comment, questioning or requests for justification of propositions asserted in it," wrote Molloy in the ruling.

"In electing to disregard the express mandate of
Congress the Forest Service is acting without authority. The agency is the creature of Congress and must follow the clear, express direction of Congress. The precipitous action here of electing to take the law into its own hands will cause the very difficulty the agency reasons it is trying to avoid."

"The judge's ruling speaks for itself. The Forest
Service must allow the public to participate in decisions affecting their public lands," said Jennifer Ferenstein, President of the Sierra Club. "The ruling has also reined in Mark Rey, the Bush Administration's undersecretary for Agriculture, and his attempts to ride rough shod over the public's trust."

"We continue to support a burned area recovery plan
that provides local jobs, effective home protection and true forest restoration. Unfortunately, the Forest Service has caused unnecessary delay and proposed a massive logging plan that is not based on sound science and will actually do more harm than good." said Larry Campbell, Executive Director of Friends of the Bitterroot.

Friends of the Bitterroot and other local conservation
organizations have developed a model burned area recovery plan for the Bitterroot National Forest called the Conservation and Local Economy Alternative. This true recovery plan, which has been dismissed by the Forest Service, would provide local jobs restoring the
forest and is based on the best available science and

In fact, Campbell noted that even the Forest Service
has admitted that the Conservation and Local Economy Alternative would provide the best path for long-term restoration of the recovering forest. Campbell pointed out that the Forest Service's Record of Decision said, "In the long-term, Alternative G [The Conservation and Local Economy Alternative] would improve watershed and aquatic habitat more than the other alternatives because of its more
aggressive watershed improvement treatments."

NOTE: A pdf version of the judge's ruling can be
obtained by calling
(406) 542-7343.

# # #

Matthew Koehler
Native Forest Network
P.O. Box 8251, Missoula, MT 59807
(406) 542-7343, fax (406) 542-7347

To learn more about the Native Forest Network visit:
 http://www.nativeforest.org

For more information, contact:

Larry Campbell, Executive Director, Friends of the
Bitterroot (406) 821-3110
Jennifer Ferenstein, President, Sierra Club (406)
543-9346, cell (406) 544-5987
Liz Mitchell, Attorney, Western Environmental Law
Center (208) 788-4398
Jon Rhodes, Aquatic Scientist, Center for Biological
Diversity (503) 236-2207

homepage: homepage: http://www.nativeforest.org
phone: phone: (406) 542-7343
address: address: P.O. Box 8251, Missoula, MT 59807