Environmental Groups Sue to Stop Huge Tongass Timber Sale

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Tongass Conservation Society: Carol Cairnes (907) 617-8908

Greenpeace: Larry Edwards (907) 738-1878


Cascadia Wildlands: Gabe Scott (907) 491-0856

Environmental Groups Sue to Stop Huge Tongass Timber Sale

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Three environmental groups sued the Forest
Service in Federal District Court in Anchorage today, challenging the
Logjam timber sale project on Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. The
plaintiffs—Tongass Conservation Society, Greenpeace, and Cascadia
Wildlands—are asking the court to cancel the 3,422 acre timber project
on Prince of Wales Island. The project would log 73 million board feet
of timber and build 22 miles of new roads.

The lawsuit claims the
Forest Service grossly failed to consider the project's impacts on
deer, wolves, and salmon. It asks the court to vacate the agency's
decision to proceed with the project, including the project's recently
offered Diesel Timber Sale.
 
Much of Prince of
Wales Island, including the Logjam area, has been heavily logged and
roaded already. “The Forest Service has not honestly confronted the
project's impacts to deer and salmon,” said Carol Cairnes, President of
the Tongass Conservation Society. “I explored these groves this fall,
and the forest they want to cut is largely the buffers that have
previously been left. Those buffers are a must for wildlife, both for
habitat and as migration corridors. Without this old-growth, the deer
have little shelter in the winter. Then the wolves are short on prey,
and people are short on subsistence meat.”
 
Gabe
Scott of Cascadia Wildlands said, “Salmon are more of an economic
backbone than timber. Roads, especially badly maintained ones, are
salmon killers. There are 25 of what they call 'red culverts'—culverts
that block salmon passage—that exclude 14 miles of upstream habitat in
this specific project area. Rather than do the maintenance, they’re
spending the money to build even more roads. And they’re $20 million in
the hole already maintaining roads on Prince of Wales Island.”
 
The
wolf subspecies here is the Alexander Archipelago wolf. It is
genetically distinct and is unique to Southeast Alaska. Larry Edwards
of Greenpeace said, “The region's most important wolf population is put
at risk by the Logjam project's logging and road building. The project
will both suppress the population of deer (the wolves' primary prey)
and increase the density of roads beyond acknowledged danger levels.
The Forest Service avoided an honest appraisal of that in its EIS.”
 
The
Logjam project has been particularly contentious. Last summer, several
other environmental groups offered to compromise if the Forest Service
would halve the project's timber volume. Tongass Supervisor Forrest
Cole instead chose one of the two alternatives that maximized timber
volume . The plaintiffs in today’s case aren’t looking for a
compromise. Scott said, “The project is ill-conceived, illegal, and
should be cancelled.”
 
Edwards said, “The Forest
Service has emphasized the importance of this project to the timber
industry, but its only hope for justifying the project was to conceal
or gloss over several substantial environmental impacts. The fact is,
the old-growth in this place has been cut to the bone. There is no way
to honestly justify the Logjam timber project, and in trying to push
the project through anyway, the EIS had to violate the law. So here we
are, at the end of the rope for an unsustainable industry.”
 
Scott
added, “The Forest Service decided to approve the export of half the
project's timber volume, unprocessed, to the Lower-48 or Asia. Export
is the only way the agency could force a positive timber value
appraisal. The jobs from Logjam are minimal, yet the project will push
the ecosystem to the brink.”
 
The groups are represented by attorneys from the Crag Law Center and Cascadia Wildlands.

 

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