Conservation groups try to stop Lane County timber sale, say it violates federal law

Jan 16, 2015 | Molly Harbarger | The Oregonain

Conservation groups are trying to stop a 259-acre timber sale in Lane County, saying the federal government shut opposition voices out of the approval process and violated environmental law.

A lawsuit filed in federal court by Cascadia Wildlands and Oregon Wild asks that a judge stop the sale, and force the Bureau of Land Management officials to re-do the reports on what impact the logging would have on the Second Show area outside of Springfield, near Shotgun Creek. The sale would be the largest cut on federal land in Lane County in the past 20 years.

The lawsuit says that conservationists voiced their concern from the beginning of the process, when Bureau of Land Management officials gave a tour of the cutting site. But, when Cascadia Wildlands and Oregon Wild tried to file protests and appeals, federal officials said the paperwork wasn't filed on time -- which the conservation groups attribute to problems with the postal service.

Nick Cady of Cascadia Wildlands said the timber sale is fundamentally flawed, though, and would result in essentially a return to clearcutting, hurting the wildlife and water quality of the area.

"This sale could have real and devastating consequences on watershed health, salmon, and clean water for the surrounding communities," Cady said Wednesday.

The groups claim the Bureau of Land Management approved the sale, despite it conflicting with National Environmental Policy Act standards for water quality and wildlife protection, and want impact statements to be reconsidered.

Many people hike, bike, fish and enjoy other recreational activities on the sale land The lawsuit claims that the 259 acres of proposed cutting contains healthy, old growth trees in an area surrounded by logging roads and other logging sales, contributing to poor ecological health.

"These forests are older than your grandpa and are developing fine habitat if we leave them alone," said Doug Heiken of Oregon Wild.  "We have worked with BLM for the last decade helping them meet timber targets by thinning dense young forests. Now they are reverting to the destructive clearcutting practices of the past. It feels like a slap in the face."

BLM spokeswoman Jody Weil said they have received the lawsuit and are reviewing it.