Posts Tagged ‘litigation’

Apr21

Press Release: Suit Filed Challenging Sale of Elliott State Forest Land

For Immediate Release, April 21, 2014
 
Contact:  Francis Eatherington, Cascadia Wildlands, (541) 643-1309
               Bob Sallinger, Audubon Society of Portland, (503) 380-9728
               Noah Greenwald, Center for Biological Diversity, (503) 484-7495

 

EUGENE, Ore.— Conservation organizations filed a lawsuit and temporary restraining order today challenging the state of Oregon’s disposal of part of the 93,000-acre Elliott State Forest northeast of Coos Bay. The legal complaint submitted by Cascadia Wildlands, Audubon Society of Portland, and the Center for Biological Diversity identified the 788-acre East Hakki Ridge parcel as prohibited by law from being sold.

“Privatizing public land in this case is illegal and a bad deal for Oregonians who cherish these lands for hunting, sightseeing, the clean water they provide, and for the unique fish and wildlife habitat they offer,” said Francis Eatherington, conservation director with Cascadia Wildlands. “Instead of being greeted with welcome signs, Oregonians will now be confronted with locked gates and clearcuts.”

In 1957 the Oregon legislature enacted a law specifically to prevent this kind of disposal of the Elliott State Forest. ORS 530.450 withdraws from sale any lands on the Elliott State Forest that were national forest lands on February 25, 1913. The East Hakki Ridge parcel, located just south of the Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area east of Reedsport, falls within this category. According to the purchase and sale agreement dated April 15, 2014, the Seneca Jones Timber Company bought the parcel for $1,895,000 even though the state of Oregon valued the timber at $5,590,000.  Elliott Rally
 
“The state has illegally clearcut the Elliott for decades, and now that it has been forced to stop, it is engaging in an illegal selloff,” said Audubon Conservation Director Bob Sallinger. “It is time for the state to look for real solutions that protect the Elliott and address the needs of the Common School Fund.”
 
The privatization scheme is in direct response to a recent successful legal challenge brought by the conservation organizations, which greatly curtailed clearcutting in old-growth forests on the Elliott State Forest, where the threatened marbled murrelet nests. The imperiled seabird is unique in that it flies upwards of 40 miles inland to lay a single egg on a wide mossy limb in the region’s remaining older rainforests. Clearcutting of its habitat is the species’ primary limiting factor.
 
“The Elliott State Forest is critically important to the survival of the marbled murrelet, coho salmon, and hundreds of other species. It holds great promise for storing carbon to help insulate both people and wildlife from the devastation of climate change,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center. “It’s not in the best interest of Oregonians or the planet to sell the Elliott to the highest bidder to be converted to an industrial tree farm. There’s a path forward for the state to protect important habitat and generate revenue for schools in Oregon.”
 
The East Hakki Ridge parcel is one of five forested tracts the Department of State Lands has authorized for privatization. Combined, the parcels consist of approximately 2,700 acres of public land on the west side of the Elliott State Forest. One of the parcels being considered for disposal this fall contains the highest production of Endangered Species Act-listed coho salmon in the Oregon Coast Range, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and also is home to threatened marbled murrelets, according to survey data. And the state of Oregon has just revealed that it will soon be analyzing the possibility of selling off the entire Elliott State Forest.
 
Conservation organizations continue to urge the State Land Board, made up of Gov. John Kitzhaber, Secretary of State Kate Brown and Treasurer Ted Wheeler, as well as other state leaders in Salem, to pursue a solution for the Elliott that protects the unique forest and keeps it in public ownership while also satisfying the school fund mandate required by these lands.
 
                                                             ####

Nov18

Lawsuit Blocks Elliott Logging

The World by Jessie Higgins
November 17, 2012

ELLIOTT STATE FOREST — The state has withdrawn more than 900 acres of planned Elliott State Forest timber sales, pending the outcome of an environmental lawsuit.

The Oregon Department of Forestry instead plans to open 465 acres of alternative logging sites not named in the lawsuit.

'It's certainly nowhere near what was proposed in the annual operating plan," said Kevin Weeks, a spokesman for the Forestry Department. As Elliott logging funds the Common School Fund, Weeks estimates the shift will cost the CSF $9.85 million in revenue in 2013.

The state had already suspended logging on about 800 acres of timberland slated to be clearcut in 2012, said Josh Laughlin, a spokesman for Cascadia Wildlands.

The environmental groups say deferred logging means another year of protection for the endangered marbled murrelet sea bird.

The lawsuit, filed in May by Cascadia Wildlands and several other environmental groups, alleges the state's logging practices violate the Endangered Species Act by killing the sea birds.

'All the current scientific information suggests the sea birds' population is continuing to plummet in this region," Laughlin said. 'Clear cutting of its nesting habitat is a factor. To us, that suggests that public agencies like the Department of Forestry should take stronger measures to ensure their survival."

The suit will be heard by a federal judge sometime next year, Laughlin said.

If the judge decides in favor of the environmental groups, the state would have to drastically adjust its forest management plan.

Cascadia Wildlands hopes the state will pursue a habitat conservation plan, which manages the forest as a whole, allowing logging in certain regions and preserving other regions as habitat for endangered species.

Such a plan must be approved by federal agencies, as it allows the state to log areas where endangered species live. The state managed the Elliott with a habitat conservation plan for years, but scrapped it in 2011 because the National Marine Fisheries Service would not approve the plan, saying it did not adequately protect Coho salmon.

Under the current forest management plan, all areas of the state forest are open to logging so long as no endangered species live in the immediate vicinity. Areas where murlets nest are protected from logging. The method is called 'take avoidance."

Cascadia Wildlands disapproves of this method because it fails to conserve uninterrupted habitat, instead creating a patchwork of logged and unlogged areas.

Reporter Jessie Higgins can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 240, or jhiggins@theworldlink.com.

Nov14

Press Release: Oregon Suspends Clearcutting in the Elliott State Forest

Contact:
Josh Laughlin, Cascadia Wildlands, (541) 844-8182    
Noah Greenwald, Center for Biological Diversity, (503) 484-7495    
Bob Sallinger, Portland Audubon Society, (503) 380-9728    
Tanya Sanerib, Crag Law Center, (503) 525-2722    
 
SALEM, Ore.- After a lawsuit by conservation groups, the State of Oregon has suspended logging of 914 acres of old-growth forest on the Elliott State Forest that is habitat for the threatened marbled murrelet. Previously, ten timber sales were suspended in response to the lawsuit filed in July by Cascadia Wildlands, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the Audubon Society of Portland. The suit asserts that the state is harming the rare seabird by logging its nesting habitat in violation of the Endangered Species Act.

“The state of Oregon has been playing fast and loose with the law for years in the way it claims to 'protect' the imperiled marbled murrelet,” said Francis Eatherington, conservation director of Cascadia Wildlands. “The decision to further defer hundreds of acres of clearcuts is one that we welcome and provides interim relief for the murrelet.”

Plaintiffs discovered the logging deferral announcement in an Oregon Department of Forestry memo, dated Sept. 19, 2012, that was just recently posted to the Department's website. The memo suggests that the State will defer 15 additional timber sales until the lawsuit currently pending in U.S. District Court is resolved, and that the State will work to identify other logging projects that are free of the contested issues in the case. Plaintiffs have long advocated the state focus its timber operations on young plantation forests in need of restoration rather than older forests that are critical to the survival of a host of endangered species, including marbled murrelets.

“Logging on state forests cannot be done at the expense of the survival of the marbled murrelet or any other animals that depend on old forests for their survival,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The last remaining old forests in Oregon are precious and need to be protected not just for the marbled murrelet, but for future generations.”

The most recent status review of the murrelet by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found the birds have been declining by about four percent per year and that this decline relates to continued loss of habitat, primarily on state and private lands.
 
The State of Oregon recently abandoned its decade-long attempt to develop habitat conservation plans (HCPs) for the Elliott, as well as the Clatsop and Tillamook State Forests, that would have given it a federal permit for limited impacts to marbled murrelets in exchange for habitat protection measures designed to enhance the bird's conservation. Rather than improving habitat protections, the state walked away from the HCP process altogether and instead ramped up logging on all three forests. The lawsuit seeks to force the State to halt logging practices that are harmful to murrelets until it develops a plan that will protect murrelets and the mature forests on which the birds and other species depend.

“It is time for the State to return to the table and negotiate a balanced plan for each of the state forests that will provide adequate protection for the murrelet, allow for responsible and sustainable logging, and ensure that the State meets the requirements of the Endangered Species Act,” said Bob Sallinger, conservation director for the Audubon Society of Portland.
 
The conservation organizations are represented by outside counsel Daniel Kruse of Eugene, Tanya Sanerib and Chris Winter of the Crag Law Center, Nick Cady of Cascadia Wildlands, Scott Jerger of Field Jerger LLP, and Susan Jane Brown of the Western Environmental Law Center.

                                                                                     ####
 

Jul02

State Suspends State Forest Timber Sales Subject to Federal Lawsuit   

July 2, 2012
KLCC by Rachael McDonald
 
The Oregon Department of Forestry has suspended operations on 10 timber sales. A lawsuit brought by conservation groups says the logging imperils a federally listed seabird.
 
Four conservation groups are suing Oregon to halt timber sales on the Elliot, Clatsop and Tillamook State Forests.
 
Josh Laughlin with Cascadia Wildlands says ODF's current methods are depleting habitat for the Marbled Murrelet, which nests in coastal forests.


 
Laughlin: "Their rampant clearcutting and chemical spraying program is continuing to push this species closer to the brink of extinction."
 

 
Laughlin says these methods are unlawful under the Endangered Species Act. He hopes Federal Judge Ann Aiken will agree. Laughlin says logging can be done in a more careful way so the murrelet's nesting sites are preserved.
 
Kevin Weeks is with ODF. He says the agency is preparing their defense of the lawsuit.
 

 
Weeks: "The Department of Forestry has adopted a rigorous set of wildlife management policies and procedures which include both extensive and intensive surveying for marbled murrelets and where we find those habitat areas extensive site protection measures."
 

 
Laughlin counters that the state leaves only postage-stamp size forest patches around the bird's habitat. The conservation groups have filed a preliminary injunction motion to keep the state from going forward with its logging plans. The hearing will take place in Portland Federal Court in the coming weeks.


 
To listen to the story, click here.
 

Jun06

Wolf: Recent Updates

May 2, 2012: The wolf found dead in early March in Union County is confirmed a poaching by Oregon State Police and ODFW. The investigation of the crime continues.
 
March 14, 2012: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upholds the district court ruling and allows the delisting of gray wolves in the Rocky Mountain states of Montana and Idaho (wolves are still listed in Wyoming due to the state's egregious management plan). Gray wolf hunting resumes.
 
March 7, 2012: Bill to overturn the ban on killing Oregon's endangered gray wolves is defeated in Salem. The Register-Guard earlier opined on the subject, opposing the extreme legislation. Cascadia Wildlands and allies spent considerable time in Salem educating policy makers and testifying against this the reckless legislation.
 
February 2, 2012: Oregon Cattlemen's Association brings a bill to the state legislature to overturn the recently issued injunction that prohibits killing Oregon's endangered gray wolves.
 
December 30, 2011: OR-7, or Journey, makes his way into California from Oregon, becoming the first wolf to return to the state in nearly 80 years.
 
December 28, 2011: Oregon's four known wolf packs, the Imnaha, Wenaha, Walla Walla and Snake River packs, all reproduced in 2011. Oregon currently has approximately 29 confirmed wolves in the state according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
 
December 12, 2011: Dispersing Imnaha Pack wolf, known as OR-7 or Journey, travels 730 miles to southwest Oregon looking for love and a home.
 
November 14, 2011: Oregon Court of Appeals extends ban on killing endangered Oregon wolves.
 
November 1, 2011: Imnaha Pack disperser located in the Umpqua National Forest. This marks the first confirmed wolf in the Oregon Cascades in over 60 years.
 
October 5, 2011: Oregon Court of Appeals grants emergency stay of execution of two Imnaha Pack wolves.
 
October 5, 2011: Cascadia Wildlands and allies file a legal challenge in state court to immediately halt the state killing of two of the remaining four Imnaha Pack wolves and send Governor Kitzhaber and key legislators a memo on our lawsuit.
 
September 26, 2011: At least two pups documented in Walla Walla Pack by ODFW.
 
September 23, 2011: Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife issues a kill order for the alpha male (pack leader) and a yearling in the Imnaha Pack after a confirmed livestock depredation near Joseph, OR, deeming the situation as "chronic."
 
June 6, 2011: Cascadia Wildlands and allies send a letter to Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife about the recent lethal control of two Imnaha Pack wolves, kill order for up to two more wolves, and the issuance of 24 "caught in the act" kill permits to private landowners. The groups also issue a press release to draw attention to the heavy-handed response to the recovering wolf population in Oregon.
 
May 18, 2011: Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife kills second Imnaha Pack wolf in the past three days after attributing recent livestock depredations in Wallowa County to the pack.
 
May 3, 2011: Cascadia Wildlands and allies file a legal challenge against US Fish and Wildlife Service's order to kill two Imnaha pack wolves. The kill order is issued after a May 1 calf death in Wallowa County is confirmed as a wolf kill.
 
April 14, 2011: Congress legislatively delists gray wolves in the northern Rockies from the Endangered Species Act as part of a rider attached to the federal budget bill. In addition to removing federal protections in Montana and Idaho, the unprecedented action also strips protections for wolves in eastern Oregon, eastern Washington and northern Utah. The delisting will likely mean sport hunting for wolves in Montana and Idaho this fall.
 
March 30, 2011: Cascadia Wildlands presents testimony in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee in the Oregon Legislature on a number of bills affecting Oregon's recovering gray wolf population. Following the hearing, the Oregonian runs an op-ed submitted by Cascadia, and the Register-Guard opines on the efforts to strip protections for wolves in Oregon.
 
March 18, 2011: Cascadia Wildlands and eight co-plaintiffs settle our legal challenge to the Obama administration's Northern Rocky Mountains gray wolf delisting from the Endangered Species Act.
 
March 1, 2011: Cascadia Wildlands delivers a memo to all 90 Oregon legislators describing anti-wolf bills that have been introduced into the 76th session in Salem.
 
March 1, 2011: Yearling female from Oregon's Imnaha pack found dead. The cause of the death of the February 25-collared wolf is unclear.
 
December 2010: Idaho and Montana senators propose to legislate delisting of gray wolves in the Rockies.
 
October 8, 2010: Conservation groups offer $7,500 reward for information leading to the prosecution of the person/s responsible for killing an endangered gray wolf from the Wenaha Pack in eastern Oregon.
 
August 5, 2010: Federal district court judge Donald Malloy in Missoula rules in favor of Cascadia Wildlands' lawsuit challenging the government's delisting of the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act in the northern Rocky Mountains. Cascadia was one of 13 co-plaintiffs and was represented by Earthjustice in the case.
 
July 8, 2010: Cascadia Wildlands and allies file a lawsuit and halt the hunt of members of Oregon's Imnaha wolf pack.
 
Fall-Winter 2009: Over 250 gray wolves are killed in Montana and Idaho during sport hunts after wolves are delisted by the Obama administration.
 
September 8, 2009: Federal district court judge Donald Malloy in Missoula rules against Cascadia Wildlands' request for a Preliminary Injunction but suggested in his ruling that we are likely to succeed on the merits of the lawsuit. The lawsuit will likely be heard in early 2010.
 
September 5, 2009: Two wolves in Baker County's Keating Valley are killed after repeated depredations of livestock. The two wolves, which are apparently not part of an organized pack, represent approximately 20% of the known wolves in Oregon today.
 
June 2, 2009: Cascadia Wildlands and 12 conservation partners represented by Earthjustice legally challenge the removal of Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in Idaho, Montana, and eastern Oregon and Washington.
 
April 2, 2009: The Obama administration's US Fish and Wildlife Service removes gray wolves from the Endangered Species Act, finalizing an effort initiated by the Bush administration. Idaho and Montana begin to plan a wolf hunting season.
 
July 18, 2008: Federal District Court Judge Donald Malloy issues a preliminary injunction halting the gray wolf delisting in the Northern Rocky Mountains. This is not a ruling on the merits of the case, rather a placeholder while attorneys argue the claims. Read the injunction opinion for more information.
 
April 28, 2008: Following up on its February 27 notice of intent to sue, Cascadia Wildlands and 11 co-plaintiffs file a lawsuit and preliminary injunction request to halt killing of gray wolves in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Since the delisting occurred in March, dozens of wolves have been killed by sport hunters.
 
February 27, 2008: Represented by Earthjustice, the Cascadia Wildlands and 11 co-plaintiffs file a 60-day notice of intent to sue the US Fish and Wildlife Service over the removal of the Northern Rocky Mountains population of the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act. The delisting will turn over management of the species to states in the inter-mountain West. Montana, Idaho and Wyoming all have management plans in place that would permit rampant killing of wolves.
 

we like it wild. Follow us Facebook Twiter RSS