JUDGE PROTECTS BULL TROUT FROM OLD-GROWTH TIMBER SALES
A Judge issued a temporary restraining order on 7/29 against the U. S. Fish and Widlife Service in an effort to protect bull trout from old-growth timber sales in the Willamette National Forest. FWS issued a biological opinion to the Forest Service in May, concluding that the timber sales would not jeopardize bull trout even though the Forest Service admits that the logging and associated road-building will degrade habitat for the threatened species.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE JUNE 31, 2002
JUDGE PROTECTS BULL TROUT FROM OLD-GROWTH TIMBER SALES IN THE WILLAMETTE NATIONAL FOREST
James Johnston, Cascadia Wildlands Project, 541-434-1463, cell - 541-554-1151
Doug Heiken, Oregon Natural Resources Council, 541-344-0675
Chris Winter, Cascade Resources Advocacy Group, 503-235-9703
Jon Rhodes, Center for Biological Diversity, 503-236-2207
Travis Williams, Willamette Riverkeeper, 503-223-6418
Portland, OR - Judge James A. Redden issued a temporary restraining order on July 29 against the United States Fish and Widlife Service ("FWS") in an effort to protect bull trout from old-growth timber sales in the Willamette National Forest. FWS issued a biological opinion to the Forest Service in May, concluding that the timber sales would not jeopardize bull trout even though the Forest Service admits that the logging and associated road-building will degrade habitat for the threatened species. Four conservation groups filed suit in June, claiming that FWS ignored the plain requirements of the Northwest Forest Plan and failed to use the best scientific evidence in reaching its conclusions. Judge Redden granted plaintiffs a temporary restraining order, meaning that the biological opinion will be withdrawn until the Court hears the rest of the case.
Tributaries of the Upper Willamette Basin support the only population of bull trout west of the Cascades in Oregon. Bull trout in the Middle Fork of the Willamette River have been on the brink of extinction for several years until the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife ("ODFW") led an effort to re-establish these magnificent trout in a watershed that has been heavily damaged by decades of logging and road-building. The fish released by ODFW should begin to spawn for the first time this year, but the timber sales, scheduled to be cut this summer, will further degrade spawning habitat that is critical to the efforts to re-establish these imperiled fish.
"The FWS must protect bull trout, yet the agency simply turned its head and ignored the long-term impacts from the road work and old-growth cuts planned by the Forest Service," said James Johnston, Executive Director of the Cascadia Wildlands Project.
Doug Heiken, acting Conservation Director for ONRC, said that "we hope the FWS gets the message that it cannot rubber stamp timber sales that simply do not comply with the protections built into the Northwest Forest Plan. Now we wait and see what the Forest Service will do as a result of the decision"
Attorneys for FWS and the Forest Service argued to Judge Redden that the Forest Service may log the sales even though the Court ordered FWS to withdraw its biological opinion. "The Forest Service could try to simply ignore the judge," said Chris Winter, attorney for the firm Cascade Resources Advocacy Group. "But, I doubt the public and the court system will look kindly on the Forest Service if it logged this area even though Judge Redden suggested that protections for bull trout were legally inadequate."
Cascade Resources Advocacy Group is a public interest law firm that filed the suit on behalf of Cascadia Widlands Project, Oregon Natural Resources Council Fund, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Willamette Riverkeeper.
Jon Rhodes is an aquatic scientist who heads the Western Native Trout Campaign for the Center for Biological Diversity. "The Forest Service, left to its own devices, will eliminate bull trout from the Willamette River as it has with native trout across the west. The FWS must enforce the ESA and protect the listed species, otherwise we'll lose it forever."
Cascadia Wildlands Project
P.O. Box 10455
Eugene, OR 97440
address: P.O. Box 10455, Eugene, OR 97440
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