Preliminary Injunction Win Stops Logging near Walton Lake this Fall
Late Thursday morning, Earthrise attorney Tom Buchele, and his co-counsel, Earthrise alum Jesse Buss, argued a motion for a preliminary injunction in the Federal District Court in Portland on behalf of our longtime client League of Wilderness Defenders/Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project. The motion was necessary to prevent the Forest Service from logging hundreds of large Douglas and Grand fir, including quite a few enormous old growth fir trees, near Walton Lake in the Ochoco National Forest. The District Court listened to the parties’ arguments for over an hour and then, after taking a short break, granted our motion from the bench. The Court specifically found that we are likely to prevail on at least one of our claims and that the balance of the equities tipped sharply in favor of our client (and the threatened trees).
Although this is not a final ruling on the merits, it does mean that hundreds of the magnificent Douglas fir and Grand fir near Walton Lake, a very popular recreation area, will not be cut down this fall. Earthrise Fellow, Doug DeRoy, and Earthrise student, Tessa Chillemi, also helped brief the motion and were in court with Tom and Jesse.
As part of their environmental litigation experience, Earthrise students were encouraged to attend the oral argument. Chillemi, who has now made her second appearance at the Earthrise counsel table for an oral argument, said the Judge “specifically said that he was granting the PI under the ‘serious questions’ modification to the requirements for a PI in the Ninth Circuit, but that he would also find that we showed a likelihood of succeeding on the merits. This is a solid siding with the Plaintiffs that an injunction is appropriate here.” Many Earthrise students were in the audience; Haley Scavone said “I was very surprised to see how well the Judge understood the issues before him. His style of oral argument was different than I would have expected; he expressed his tentative findings and then directed the advocates to respond to his questions. It was very effective and made it entirely clear which issues the Judge cared to focus on.”