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Conservation groups file lawsuit to stop logging and road-building in Nez Perce National Forest

For immediate release:  9-12-12


Gary Macfarlane, Ecosystem Defense Director, Friends of the Clearwater, 208-882-9755

Mike Garrity, Executive Director, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, 406-459-5936

Conservation groups file lawsuit to stop logging and road-building in Nez Perce National Forest

Moscow, ID – The Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Friends of the Clearwater filed a lawsuit on Tuesday in Federal District Court against the Forest Service to stop the Little Slate timber sale in the Salmon River Ranger District of the Nez Perce National Forest.  This timber sale authorizes  2,598 acres of logging including 1,211 acres of clearcuts plus 515 acres of prescribed burning, 2,084 acres of excavator piling, 12 miles of road construction, and 15 miles of road reconstruction on previously closed roads.

“Unfortunately we have to go to court to stop this timber sale because the Forest Service keeps trying to spend taxpayers’ money destroying important habitat for threatened and sensitive species instead of maintaining and recovering them as required by federal law,” said Mike Garrity, Executive Director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies.  “On the Little Slate sale, that includes pileated woodpeckers, Northern goshawks, Canada lynx, bull trout, Snake River steelhead and Chinook salmon.”

“Forest Service personnel have seen lynx in the Little Slate area and across the Nez Perce National Forest,” Garrity added.  “Yet inexplicably, the agency failed to examine how logging is hurting Canada lynx, which are listed as ‘threatened’ – and hence protected — under the Endangered Species Act.  In fact, the Forest Service has failed to complete any acceptable surveys for this imperiled animal, even after its failure to do so was criticized by the federal Court in a prior case.”

“Likewise, the Forest Service has not been able to find — or has failed to disclose – any survey results for pileated woodpeckers, goshawks or fishers, all of which are old growth Management Indicator Species.  The agency even admits that past logging removed mature and old growth forest habitats that provide the highest quality habitats for these species despite the fact that the National Forest Management Act requires the Forest Service to ensure that they don’t kill all of the native species of wildlife when they log.”  Garrity continued. “The planned logging would destroy an additional 2,400 acres of habitat for these species and the agency is simply continuing to allow this serious habitat destruction without doing its homework.”

“Both the Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are violating both the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act because they failed to adequately discuss and analyze the direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of more logging and road building on bull trout, Snake River steelhead, Chinook salmon and their habitat,” added Gary McFarlane, Ecosystem Defense Director for Friends of the Clearwater.  “Thus, these federal agencies are failing to ensure the survival and recovery of these threatened native fish as required by law.”

“Slate Creek is a high priority watershed for bull trout,” Macfarlane continued.  “But the Forest Service wants to build more roads and dump more sediment into pristine streams — the very thing that caused bull trout to be listed as ‘threatened’ under the Endangered Species Act in the first place. It is the definition of insanity to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result.”

“We have been involved in every step of this process and made the federal government aware of our concerns.  It is unfortunate that we have to ask the court to intervene to protect habitat for old growth dependent species and native fish as the law requires,” Macfarlane concluded.  “It’s not something we prefer to do, but in the end, judicial review of government actions is guaranteed by our constitution and we are using it to challenge the government’s actions exactly as it was intended.”