In 2016, Idaho Rivers United (IRU) and Friends of the Clearwater (FOC) were forced to litigate the Forest Service’s proposal (Johnson Bar) to log over 2100 acres or 34-million board feet within the Wild & Scenic Selway and Middle Fork Clearwater corridors following recent wildland fire. This project called for road-building, clear-cutting and helicopter landings within the corridors. In response a federal judge issued a temporary injunction for the plaintiffs, sighting a failure to protect the corridors under the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, failure to adopt a comprehensive river management plan, as well as failure to assess cumulative impacts of the project combined with other logging on private and state land in the same area. The Forest was ordered to issue a supplementary analysis of the project.
The new analysis offered by the Forest Service (Johnson Bar II) was very similar to the initial one, including salvage logging in the Selway and Middle Fork Clearwater corridors. As provided for in the administrative process, IRU and FOC engaged in discussions with the Forest Service on our formal objection to the new proposal. We were reached an agreement that reduced logging by approximately 60% of the original proposal, including no logging in the Selway and Middle Fork Clearwater corridors. While some of the project will still move forward, the result of the objection process avoids the risk of a bad court precedent (going back to court a second time on the same project is risky). A bad precedent could also have a negative influence on future Forest Service proposals in sensitive watersheds.