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corporate dominance | forest defense | save the biscuit

Biscuit Halted Again By Injunction

The Biscuit wildfire area has again been spared by the courts. In a ruling late Tuesday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco granted an injunction stopping ancient forest reserve logging in the Biscuit. More than 4000 acres of ancient forest outside the injunction, however, remain under threat of logging.
biscuit fire
biscuit fire
The Biscuit wildfire area has again been spared by the courts. In a ruling late Tuesday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco granted an injunction stopping ancient forest reserve logging in the Biscuit. More than 4000 acres of ancient forest outside the injunction, however, remain under threat of logging.

Below you will find an AP story on the issue. Note that all enviro groups took a pass on litigating the 4460 acres of ancient forest logging in the "matrix." Also passed up: 67 miles of 400 foot wide "fuel managment zones" ripping thru roadless/ancient forest reserve areas and 300 miles of road reconstruction and maintenence.

Make no mistake: this ruling is a big victory. Indymedia readers are well aware that liberal groups trumpeting success don't always tell the whole story. The struggle for the radicals and those that do not compromise the Earth, the struggle for the 4460 acres at places like Indi, Horse and Chetco has just begun.


Appeals court halts logging in old growth burned by 2002 Biscuit fire

By JEFF BARNARD
The Associated Press
9/7/2004, 7:46 p.m. PT


GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) A federal appeals court Tuesday blocked logging of old growth forest reserves burned in the 2002 Biscuit fire until a lawsuit brought by environmentalists is decided, making it unlikely the dead trees can be harvested before rotting.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted an emergency injunction sought by environmentalists in the two-year battle over one of the biggest federal logging projects in history.

The fire that burned 500,000 acres in southwestern Oregon in 2002 the biggest in the nation that year has become the focus of an intense political and scientific debate between the Bush administration and the timber industry on one side and environmentalists on the other over whether to log and reforest the millions of acres of national forest that burn every year, or leave them largely to recover on their own.

"The court's action today gives us a chance to find some balance here that will actually be good for the forests and the people in the region, instead of just logging everything in sight," said Todd True, and attorney for EarthJustice in Seattle, a public interest law firm that represents environmentalists.

The injunction covers six timber sales totaling 47 million board feet on 6,600 acres in old growth forest reserves. These reserves are designated primarily for fish and wildlife habitat under the Northwest Forest Plan, the 1994 policy implemented to protect the Northern spotted owl and salmon from logging.

The sales amount to about 12 percent of the overall proposal.

The injunction comes just days after U.S. District Judge Michael Hogan lifted an earlier injunction that held up logging until the U.S. Forest Service properly marked trees which are to be left standing, and a week before environmentalists, the Forest Service, the timber industry and the state of Oregon were to begin two days of mediation in an attempt to reach a settlement.

The injunction does not cover timber sales in so-called "matrix lands," which are designated for logging under the Northwest Forest Plan.

Siskiyou National Forest spokeswoman Judy McHugh said she could not comment on pending litigation. She added that logging has not begun on any of the sales, and marking of trees which are to be left behind for fish and wildlife ordered is still ongoing.

"This plays right into the continuing agenda of the environmental community to litigate and obstruct lawful and sound land management practices," said Chris West, vice president of the American Forest Resource Council, a pro-timber group. "We lost half a million acres of forest, key watersheds and critical habitats in this forest, and to them that's OK."

West said the timber industry will consider asking the full 9th Circuit to review the injunction, because as it stands now, logging is unlikely before next spring, when the economic value of trees standing dead nearly three years will be very low.

"The Forest Service has gotten in over its head," said Don Smith of the Siskiyou Regional Education Project, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, noting the Forest Service was likely to see about a quarter of its proposal actually harvested. "This was thrust upon them from Washington, D.C. Now we have to step back from the conflict and get back to what is best for the land."

A lightning storm on July 13, 2002, sparked four fires in the rugged Klamath Mountains of southwestern Oregon. They combined into the Biscuit fire, which threatened 17,000 people in Oregon's Illinois Valley and burned 500,000 acres before it was controlled at a cost of $153 million.

The Forest Service originally proposed selling 96 million board feet of timber solely from matrix lands designated for timber harvest. Under pressure from the timber industry, they boosted the goal to 518 million board feet, expanding into roadless areas and old growth forest reserves that environmentalists want to preserve, then dropped it to 370 million board feet on 19,465 acres.

Hogan has rejected environmentalists' claims that the salvage plan violates the Northwest Forest Plan by logging too heavily in old growth forest reserves, that an emergency declaration eliminating the normal administrative appeals period could not be justified solely on economic grounds, and that the plan fails to adequately protect fish from erosion associated with logging, roads and fire trails.

True noted that injunctions are not granted unless the court feels appelants have a reasonable chance of winning.