Agreement Reached on Northwest Forest Plan Lawsuit

wafcdc at americanlands.org wafcdc at americanlands.org
Fri Nov 19 07:31:33 EST 1999


From: "wafcdc at americanlands.org" <wafcdc at americanlands.org>
Subject: Agreement Reached on Northwest Forest Plan Lawsuit

For Immediate Release: November 19, 1999

For more information contact:
Doug Heiken, Oregon Natural Resources Council, Eugene, OR - 541/344-0675
Dave Werntz, Northwest Ecosystem Alliance, Bellingham, WA - 360/671-9950 x14
Kyle Haines, Klamath Forest Alliance, Etna, CA - 530/467-5405

Agreement Reached on Northwest Forest Plan Lawsuit

              Government to Complete Required Wildlife Surveys

The government and conservation groups reached an agreement this week to
settle a controversial lawsuit involving federal forests west of the
Cascades in Washington, Oregon, and California. The agreement obligates the
Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to complete wildlife surveys
prior to conducting timber sales and other activities that could harm wildlife.

"This agreement allows us to more directly enforce the Clinton
Administration's obligation to complete wildlife surveys and protect habitat
for sensitive species as required by the Northwest Forest Plan," said Mike
Axline of Western Environmental Law Center who represented 13 conservation
groups in the lawsuit.

"Now the Forest Service and BLM must stop avoiding their legal
responsibilities and get to work implementing the Forest Plan, so at least
minimal protections are in place for ancient forests, salmon & wildlife, and
clean drinking water," said Doug Heiken of Oregon Natural Resources Council.

The agreement follows a court ruling earlier this summer that found the
Forest Service and BLM failed to properly implement certain requirements of
the Northwest Forest Plan intended to protect habitat for rare and sensitive
species that depend on old-growth forests for their survival.  In August,
Seattle federal judge William Dwyer ruled against the government and halted
34 timber sales that were not properly surveyed.  He then ordered the
parties to try to settle the remaining issues in the lawsuit. The agreement
reached this week remains subject to the approval of Judge Dwyer.

The Northwest Forest Plan requires surveys to determine whether rare and
vulnerable species are present so that the timber harvest plans can be
adjusted if necessary to avoid harm to wildlife.  The Forest Plan predicted
that if the surveys are not done, as many as 400 species could be at
increased risk of extinction.  If the surveys are done, many species will be
spared thereby avoiding potential listing under the Endangered Species Act.
For further background information please visit:
http://www.onrc.org/info/srvmng.html

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