Cascadia Wildlands, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, Oregon Wild, and Soda Mountain Wilderness Council have filed suit to stop a 9,000-acre timber project in Southern Oregon that will allow logging in threatened spotted owl habitat contrary to federal laws. The project will occur next to the treasured Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, further degrading surrounding forests.
The North Landscape project, which was approved by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s Lakeview District last year, is expected to generate 111 million board-feet of lumber. The lawsuit seeks to overturn the project for allegedly violating the National Environmental Policy Act and Administrative Procedures Act.
In its haste to increase timber harvest on an extremely fragmented landscape, the Lakeview BLM has unlawfully elevated timber volume production over ecological considerations such as wildfire risk and at-risk species conservation. Nearly 7,000 acres of the project area that have been slated for thinning or clear-cutting are within the designated critical habitat of the Northern spotted owl, which is protected under the Endangered Species Act and continues to experience declines.
The project area contains five sites that are occupied by the spotted owl and the birds will be extirpated from these areas, while the BLM also plans to log seven unoccupied sites that could be inhabited in the future. Northern spotted owls are not expected to recolonize the area until suitable habitat develops in 120 years.
Further, the BLM failed to address important issues associated with the project, including the increasing spread of barred owls that are competing with northern spotted owls, the unique ecological features of the area including the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, and also the fact that the project will admittedly drastically increase fire-hazard for the region.
Our organizations have asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Clarke in Medford, Ore., to enjoin the BLM and its contractors from implementing the project and to vacate its approval.
Additional media coverage can be found here.