December 3rd, 2013
For immediate release
Nick Cady, Legal Director, Cascadia Wildlands, (541) 434-1463
Steve Pedery, Conservation Director, Oregon Wild, (503) 283-6343 ext. 212
John Mellgren, Attorney, Western Environmental Law Center, (541) 525-5087
Conservationists File Legal Challenge to Protect Popular Recreation Areas and Imperiled Wildlife Habitat in Umpqua National Forest
EUGENE, Ore.— Cascadia Wildlands and Oregon Wild, represented by the Western Environmental Law Center, filed a legal challenge in Eugene today challenging the Umpqua National Forest’s proposed Loafer timber sale.
The Loafer timber sale will log over 800 acres of forests, including hundreds of acres of northern spotted owl habitat. The logging will negatively impact the widespread recreational use of the area, which includes Umpqua Hot Springs and the very popular North Umpqua Trail. The project will also build a road through the middle of two important roadless areas, the Dread and Terror and Thorn Prairie Roadless Areas, that are used frequently by backpackers and are part of the proposed Crater Lake Wilderness area. The road construction would preclude this area from being protected as Wilderness.
“The Forest Service should be focused on preserving those very few areas left that contain these roadless and wilderness characteristics,” said Francis Eatherington, conservation director of Cascadia Wildlands. “Extensive road-building smack through the middle of these beloved backcountry recreation areas is simply ridiculous.”
The plaintiffs are litigating the Loafer project on a number of bases, including the Forest Service’s failure to conduct a full environmental impact evaluation of the project’s effects on important recreational and ecological characteristics.
“Given the vast and diverse expanse encompassed by the project area, the proposed logging will affect an enormous array of imperiled species, including northern spotted owls, red tree voles, wolverines, and Oregon spotted frogs,” said John Mellgren, attorney for the Western Environmental Law Center. “The Forest Service needs to do more than a cursory analysis when logging to this extent in such a special place.”
Conservation groups have long urged the Umpqua National Forest to focus on restoration that has allowed the Umpqua to reach timber targets and restore diversity into the tree plantations that now dominate the landscape. The Loafer project represents a sharp departure from this direction, an obvious timber grab in important recreation areas for the public.
“All across the Northwest, responsible forest managers have abandoned the idea of logging pristine roadless areas, and now focus on less environmentally damaging approaches,” said Steve Pedery, Conservation Director for Oregon Wild. “It is time for the Umpqua National Forest to move in to the 21st century.”
The conservation organizations are represented by Nick Cady of Cascadia Wildlands, and John Mellgren of the Western Environmental Law Center.
Click here to read a copy of the complaint.