Court Bans Raw Log Imports

Mark Feider mfeider at
Wed Jun 11 00:01:47 EST 1997

Forwarded message:
From:   percsiberia at (Siberian Forests Protection Project)
Sender: percsiberia at
To:     wafcdc at, vmenotti at, ZeroCut1 at, ZeroCut2 at,
DavidOrr at, rosmarin at
Date: 97-06-10 20:03:44 EDT


News From:
Pacific Environment and Resources Center (PERC), San Francisco, CA,

Oregon Natural Resources Council (ONRC), Portland, OR, 503-283-6343

Northcoast Environmental Center (NEC), Arcata, CA, 707-822-6918

Western Environmental Law Center (WELC), Eugene, OR, 541-485-2471

              Court Bans Imports of Raw Logs and Wood Chips
       Federal injunction cites danger to U.S. forests from exotic

A federal judge in San Francisco has issued a nationwide injunction
prohibiting the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) from
issuing permits for the import of raw logs into the United States until the
Department adequately discloses the risk that such imports pose to U.S.
forests by the invasion of destructive insects and fungal pests.

Several environmental organizations, led by the Pacific Environment and
Resources Center (PERC), Oregon Natural Resources Council (ONRC),
and the Northcoast Environmental Center (NEC) and represented by the
Western Environmental Law Center (WELC), successfully sued the
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the USDA over
APHIS's regulations allowing the import of unprocessed wood products,
including shiploads of raw logs and wood chips, into United States ports.
The injunction provides the relief sought by conservation organizations
following a ruling in March that APHIS' regulations violate environmental

The injunction halts the issuance of any new permits to import
unprocessed wood products except tropical hardwoods and products from
border states of Canada and Mexico.  In particular, the ruling will prevent
the potential import of pest-infested raw logs and wood chips from Chile,
New Zealand, Siberia, and Central Mexico.  "This is the most important
environmental issue of the decade," said Mike Axline, lead counsel from
the Western Environmental Law Center.  "If exotic pests from other
countries begin decimating our forests, all of the work that has been done
to protect habitat and water quality on public lands will have been for

According to Tim McKay of NEC, "exotic pests on unprocessed wood
coming from other countries are nearly impossible to detect, and once
established in the United States could literally destroy entire forests."
McKay cites the virtual elimination of American Chestnut and native elm
species on the East Coast as examples of how invading pests from other
countries can wipe out entire tree species.  These species were once the
dominant tree species in eastern forests.
A single shipload of raw logs carries enough trees to load one thousand
log trucks.  Once imported, the logs are hauled by open truck to various
mills, sometimes hundreds of miles away from the port where the logs first
arrived.  In December 1994, a shipment of untreated wood chips from
New Zealand spilled in the Willamette National Forest while being
transported between Coos Bay and Prineville, Oregon.  The wood chips
had to be vacuumed from the forest floor to prevent potential infestation.

"It is difficult to even imagine what the West would look like without any
Douglas Fir or Ponderosa Pine forests," said Mark Hubbard of ONRC,
"but there is a very real possibility that these forests will be annihilated
pests coming in on raw logs under existing government regulations."

State regulatory agencies and timber industry officials have privately
expressed concern about the risks to the industry should exotic pests enter
the country on log shipments.

"Private landowners and the timber industry are understandably nervous
about raw log imports," said David Gordon of PERC.  "These imports
would provide short-term benefits for a very few mills, but they pose long
term risks of catastrophic destruction of entire forests.  If that happens,
the entire wood products industry will suffer monumental impacts.  The
regulations are incredibly short sighted."       

"This ruling will protect forests and forest-dependent communities both in
the U.S. and around the world in Chile, New Zealand, and Siberia,"
Gordon added.  "It makes no sense for the United States to ship billions
of board feet of ancient forest logs from the United States to other
countries, only to turn around and encourage other countries to ship
billions of board feet of potentially diseased logs into the United States."

The court ordered the parties to report back in one year on their progress
in preparing new regulations and a new Environmental Impact Statement
that more thoroughly discusses the risks of importing unprocessed wood

For More Information, please contact:

Mike Axline, Western Environmental Law Center, 541-485-2471

David Gordon, PERC, California, 415-332-8200
Mark Hubbard, ONRC, Oregon, 503-283-6343 x211
Tim McKay, NEC, California, 707-822-6918
Dr. Joy Belsky, Portland, OR, 503-228-9720
Dr. William Denison, Corvallis, OR, 541-737-5276 or 541-753-8198

Terry Lamers, Oregon Small Woodlands Association, 503-623-6979
(mornings and evenings best)


David Gordon
Pacific Environment and Resources Center
1055 Fort Cronkhite
Sausalito, CA 94965
tel: (415) 332-8200
fax: (415) 332-8167
email <percsiberia at>

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