In The Media
Matthew Bishop, Western Environmental Law Center, 406-422-9866, email@example.com
Bethany Cotton, WildEarth Guardians, 406-414-7227, firstname.lastname@example.org
Orders Reconsideration of Safeguards for Species Imperiled by Climate Change
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 29, 2016
Gabe Scott | Cascadia Wildlands | email@example.com | (907) 491-0856
Tom Waldo | Earthjustice | firstname.lastname@example.org | (907) 500‐7123
Niel Lawrence | Natural Resources Defense Council | email@example.com | (360) 534‐9900
Buck Lindekugel | Southeast Alaska Conservation Council | firstname.lastname@example.org | (907) 586‐6942
Catalina Tresky | Defenders of Wildlife | email@example.com | (202) 772‐0253
Virginia Cramer | Sierra Club | firstname.lastname@example.org | (804) 519‐8449
U.S. Supreme Court Denies Effort to Overturn Tongass National Forest Protections
Court leaves rules in place that protect Tongass rainforest
wildlands from damaging logging, road construction
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Supreme Court today declined to hear a last‐ditch effort by the State of Alaska to exempt America’s largest national forest from a national rule protecting undeveloped, road‐free national forest areas from logging and road
construction. The State sought to overturn a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that
kept the Roadless Area Conservation Rule in effect in the vast Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska. The Ninth Circuit agreed with a federal District Court in Alaska that the Bush administration improperly exempted the Tongass from that landmark
“The Tongass’ roadless rainforests are a national treasure, and the last, best intact wildlands in our bioregion,” said Gabriel Scott, Alaska legal director for Cascadia Wildlands. “We are pleased with the court’s decision and the recognition that it is a privilege, not a burden, to conserve these national treasures for future generations.”
A coalition including the Organized Village of Kake (a federally recognized Alaska Native tribe), tourism businesses, and conservationists joined the federal government in urging the Supreme Court to leave the lower court rulings intact.
“Today’s court order is great news for Southeast Alaska and for all those who visit this
spectacular place,” said Earthjustice attorney Tom Waldo. “The remaining wild and
undeveloped parts of the Tongass are important wildlife habitat and vital to local
residents for hunting, fishing, recreation, and tourism, the driving forces of the local
economy. The Supreme Court’s decision means that America’s biggest national forest—the Tongass—will continue to benefit from a common‐sense rule that applies
“It feels terrific to put this case to bed once and for all,” added Niel Lawrence, senior
attorney and Alaska Director for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Punching
clearcuts and logging roads into America’s last great rainforest wildland produced
nothing but controversy, conflict, and uncertainty. The region can now move ahead on a
path that benefits from and sustains the fabulous natural values that attract people to
the Tongass. And all Americans can celebrate, knowing that we’ll pass on the crown
jewel of national forests to future generations as wild and wonderful as it is today.”
“Southeast Alaska has moved on,” said Buck Lindekugel, Grassroots Attorney for the
Southeast Alaska Conservation Council. “Clearcutting old‐growth forests in the remote
wildlands of our region, with expensive new logging roads no one can afford to
maintain, is a thing of the past. We are pleased to see the Supreme Court put this issue to rest and call on the State of Alaska to do the same.”
“The Supreme Court’s decision today is a victory for wildlife in the Tongass National
Forest, the state of Alaska, the region and the nation,” said Peter Nelson, senior policy
advisor for federal lands for Defenders of Wildlife. “The Roadless Rule protects the
wildlands that form the heart of America’s largest national forest within the most
expansive temperate rainforest in the world. Future generations will now have the
opportunity to experience the majesty of this ecosystem and the salmon, bears, wolves, birds and the myriad wildlife that depend on it.”
“The Roadless Rule protects our intact ancient forests that salmon, bears, and wolves
depend upon. Alaska’s temperate rainforest is a treasure and today’s decision will help
keep the Tongass protected from more logging and destruction,” said Marc Fink, Senior
Attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity.
“We're pleased to see the Roadless Rule upheld again. Over the past decade we’ve seen that the rule works. It has protected millions of acres of forests across the country,
ensuring that both wildlife and American families have space to live and explore. In the
face of a rapidly changing climate, protecting forests like the Tongass is even more
important," said Alli Harvey, with the Sierra Club's Our Wild America campaign in Alaska. "It's common sense to protect this wild national icon for future generations to enjoy."
The so‐called “Roadless Rule” was designed to protect “large, relatively undisturbed
landscapes” in national forests from logging roads and clear‐cuts, while allowing other
economic development — including hydropower projects, transmission lines, tourism,
federally‐financed public roads, and even mining — to continue.
Today’s ruling is good news for the many residents of the region and local businesses
who use and depend on the Tongass’ outstanding natural values, as well as visitors who
come to see America’s last great rainforest, teeming with fish and wildlife that thrive in
its undeveloped roadless areas. Little practical change is expected, however, since even
when the Bush‐era exemption was in effect, cost and controversy kept almost all logging out of roadless areas. And last year, a federal advisory committee including
representatives of the timber industry and the State formally and unanimously
recommended against further logging of those wildlands.
The 17 million‐acre Tongass spans 500 miles of coastal Southeast Alaska, encompassing alpine meadows, deep fjords, calving glaciers, dense old‐growth rainforest, and over 1,000 islands and islets. After much debate and hundreds of thousands of comments, in 2001, the Agriculture Department decided that the Roadless Rule should apply to the Tongass but included special measures to blunt the impact of the rule on Alaska’s timber industry. Not applying the rule, the department found, “would risk the loss of important roadless values” in the Tongass. When the Bush administration reversed course and tried to exempt the Tongass from the Roadless Rule, it relied on factual findings at odds with those that justified its original decision and ignored the economic mitigation package for the Tongass. It asserted, without support, that the rule was not needed to protect Tongass wildlands and would cause widespread economic hardship.
The Ninth Circuit’s ruling — and today’s decision by the Supreme Court not to review
that ruling — reinforced the settled rule that federal agencies cannot arbitrarily change
policies and ignore previous factual findings simply because a new president has taken
Attorneys from Earthjustice and the Natural Resources Defense Council represent the
following groups in the case: Organized Village of Kake, The Boat Company, Alaska
Wilderness Recreation and Tourism Association, Southeast Alaska Conservation Council,Natural Resources Defense Council, Tongass Conservation Society, Greenpeace, Wrangell Resource Council, Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club, and Cascadia Wildlands.
March 25, 2016
Nick Cady, Cascadia Wildlands (541) 434-1463
Forrest English, Rogue Riverkeeper 541-261-2030
Roger Flynn, Mining Action Project 303-823-5738
Lori Ann Burd, Center for Biological Diversity 971-717-6405
Jake Crawford, Native Fish Society (720) 253-8485
Federal Court Upholds Oregon’s Right to Protect Water Quality and Fish Habitat
Court Finds That Restrictions on Mining Methods Are Clearly Within the State’s Authority
Medford, OR — This morning a federal court upheld an Oregon law restricting motorized gold mining in and along sensitive salmon streams. The District of Oregon court held that the State of Oregon has the right to regulate both state and federal land to protect water quality and fish habitat, and it has done so in a manner that does not conflict with federal law.
“The court correctly found that mining operations on federal land must comply with state laws enacted to protect public health and the environment,” noted Roger Flynn, with the Western Mining Action Project and one of the attorneys representing conservation and fishing groups that joined the case to help defend the Oregon law. “This decision supports a growing effort in Western states to protect clean water and fisheries from mining pollution and wildlife habitat damage,” said Flynn.
At issue in the case is Oregon’s Senate Bill 838, passed in 2013 to implement temporary restrictions on equipment such as suction dredges and other motorized mining equipment in and nearby habitat essential for salmon, and to protect water quality. The law went into effect this January and remains in effect through 2021. The 2013 law came about due to increasing concern throughout the state about the cumulative effects of these gold mining techniques on streams and rivers.
“With these protections Oregon has taken the first step towards addressing threats to our salmon runs and water quality from mining,” said Forrest English of Rogue Riverkeeper. “We look forward to sensible regulation that extends beyond 2021 and that ensures these values are protected for all future Oregonians, the court has made it clear that we can do that.”
Peer reviewed science shows that suction dredging can mobilize toxic mercury into rivers and streams, as well as reduce salmon spawning success due to alterations in habitat. Additionally in hot spots, such as the Umpqua and Rogue Rivers, the number of dredges has created conflicts with anglers and other recreationists.
“Oregonians can breathe a sigh of relief that many of our rivers and most sensitive salmon fisheries will be protected this summer from the toxic plumes of mercury that suction dredge mining releases,” said Lori Ann Burd, environmental health director at the Center for Biological Diversity.
Gold miners brought a lawsuit against the State of Oregon last October alleging that federal laws denied Oregon the right to protect environmental resources within the state. Environmental groups and commercial fishing interests including Rogue Riverkeeper, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, Oregon Coast Alliance, Cascadia Wildlands, Native Fish Society and the Center for Biological Diversity intervened on behalf of the state and are represented by the Western Environmental Law Center and Western Mining Action Project.
“We are very pleased the Court has clarified that the State of Oregon has the power to protect our cherished rivers from destructive suction-dredge mining, especially the famous Rogue River and its tributaries — one of the most important salmon rivers in Oregon,” said Cameron La Follette with Oregon Coast Alliance. “State environmental laws are a crucial means of protecting the public's investment in salmon habitat restoration in our public waterways.”
"We are incredibly encouraged that the Court made the common sense decision to permit Oregon to regulate harmful mining practices in some of Oregon's most cherished waterways," said Nick Cady with Cascadia Wildlands. "Oregonians have a right to protect the things they value, including clean water and salmon."
“This decision will help keep Oregon’s iconic wild salmon healthy for future generations,” said Jake Crawford with Native Fish Society. “It bolsters similar protections in California and Idaho, while giving Washington a path forward for protecting wild salmon and water quality from suction dredge mining.”
A copy of the decision can be found here.
Nick Cady, Cascadia Wildlands, (541) 434-1463, email@example.com
Amy Atwood, Center for Biological Diversity, (503) 504-5660, firstname.lastname@example.org
Bethany Cotton, WildEarth Guardians, (503) 327-4923, email@example.com
Brooks Fahy, Predator Defense, (541) 937-4261, firstname.lastname@example.org
Camilla Fox, Project Coyote, (415) 690-0338, email@example.com
Public will gather to support Malheur refuge, celebrate national public lands
The public is invited to join this statewide event expressing appreciation for national public lands, their public servant caretakers, and the positive collaborative efforts between refuge officials, ranchers, environmentalists, and Native Americans that have been underway on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge for a decade. Speakers will highlight the importance of protecting special places like the Malheur NWR that provide integral wildlife habitat, clean water, climate change mitigation, and recreational opportunities available as a benefit to all Americans.
Events are listed below, with details and more events across the state currently being planned. Participants can contact Cascadia Wildlands to receive up-to-date event information, and follow the conversation using #RefugeRally. This page will continue to be updated.
Unless otherwise specified, all events will take place at noon:
Old Federal Building
211 E. 7th Ave, Eugene
Oregon Wild – Doug Heiken (541-344-0675) firstname.lastname@example.org
Cascadia Wildlands – Nick Cady (314) 482-3746 email@example.com
Center for Biological Diversity – Jared Margolis (802) 310-4054 firstname.lastname@example.org
NE 11th Ave, Portland
Oregon Wild – Arran Robertson (971) 241-0103 email@example.com
Portland Audubon – Bob Sallinger 503 380 -9728 firstname.lastname@example.org
Center for Biological Diversity – Tierra Curry (928) 522-3681 email@example.com
Brooks St, Bend
Oregon Natural Desert Assoc – Dan Morse, (541) 330-2638 firstname.lastname@example.org
Pro-Public Lands Potluck
105 Fir St Suite #327
Federal Building / GSA