Earthrise Files Suit to Stop Logging of Popular Recreation Site in The Ochoco National Forest
August 17, 2016
On Monday Earthrise attorney Tom Buchele, representing the League of Wilderness Defenders/ Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project, filed a lawsuit to challenge proposed heavy logging at Walton Lake, the most popular recreation area in the Ochoco National Forest, in eastern Oregon.
The Paulia Ranger District is trying to circumvent environmental impact reviews and go ahead with logging projects whose cumulative impact would have a devastating effect on the Ochoco. The Forest service is using a loophole in the environmental review process called Categorical Exclusion. The practice dodges the requirement for a full Environmental Assessment or Environmental Impact Statement, eliminating disclosure of full environmental impact information to the public.
“The Forest Service claims this logging is needed to eliminate root rot, yet logging is well documented in the science to spread root rot, thus defeating the stated purpose and need for the timber sale,” says Karen Coulter, Director of the League of Wilderness Defenders’ Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project.
The Forest Service has admitted the planned logging would ravage the area, removing virtually all Grand firs and Douglas firs—including large old growth trees. The plan would also include commercially logging additional large fir near the lake in an area unaffected by root rot.
“The heavy logging proposed would artificially convert naturally moist mixed conifer old growth forest to dry Ponderosa pine lacking much of the original large tree structure,” Coulter adds, “Such a controversial timber sale should not be allowed to go forward without full environmental impacts analysis and full opportunity for the public to comment and raise objections.”
Co-counsel on this case is Earthrise alum Jesse Buss out of Oregon City. Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project is a project of the League of Wilderness Defenders based in eastern Oregon dedicated to protecting and restoring native forest and high desert ecosystems on four National Forests—the Ochoco, Umatilla, Malheur, and Deschutes—and the Prineville Bureau of Land Management District