contact Michael Garrity, Executive Director, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, (406) 459-5936
Salmon, Idaho – The Alliance for the Wild Rockies announced today that they reached a settlement with the U.S. Forest Service in regards to their lawsuit against the Salmon National Forest’s Moose Creek timber sale.
On July 24, 2006, Salmon National Forest Supervisor William Wood signed the Decision Notice authorizing the Salmon Interface/Moose Creek Fuels Reduction Project Environmental Assessment. The Moose Creek Project allowed commercial logging of nine million board feet over approximately 1,486 acres of forest. The timber sale included 968 acres of clearcuts in lodgepole pine forest, much of it habitat for old growth dependent species such as the boreal owl and the northern goshawk. The Decision Notice also approved 518 acres of clearcutting of aspen forest. These clearcuts would have been logged approximately five to 12 miles from the town of Salmon, Idaho.
The Alliance for the Wild Rockies filed a complaint in this case in Federal District Court in Idaho on October 22, 2007, challenging the final decision issued by the United States Forest Service, Salmon-Challis National Forest that authorized the Salmon Interface/Moose Creek Fuels Reduction Project and alleged violations of the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Forest Management Act.
On May 21, 2008, the federal district court judge granted a preliminary injunction against the project, because the Forest Service was not ensuring the viability of old growth dependent species on the Salmon National Forest. The Court noted that the Salmon National Forest’s old growth standard appears to be invalid, and even if it is valid, the Forest Service failed to comply with it. After the preliminary injunction was granted, Alliance for the Wild Rockies entered into a settlement agreement to protect the Salmon National Forest from logging that degrades mature forest and areas with sensitive soils, including most of the area slated for logging as part of the Moose Creek project. As part of the agreement, Alliance agreed to allow a local logger to proceed with logging in several units that he had purchased before the lawsuit was filed, and which are not located in mature forest or areas with sensitive soils.
Michael Garrity, Executive Director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies said, “We are glad the Forest Service settled this case and agreed to protect old growth forests throughout the Salmon National Forest. The Forest Service has determined that the viability of certain old growth species is at risk, as evidenced by current downward trends in population numbers and habitat for the fisher, wolverine, northern goshawk, boreal owl, three-toed woodpecker, and the great gray owl. Goshawks, wolverines, and great gray owls require old growth habitat and are threatened by logging. We are glad the Forest Service settled this case and agreed to protect old growth forests throughout the Salmon National Forest and old growth dependent species instead of pressing ahead on clearcutting.”
Garrity said, “In addition to agreeing to stop logging old growth stands greater than 80 acres, the ones that are most valuable to wildlife, the Salmon National Forest agreed to conduct surveys and follow-up surveys of sensitive species in the Salmon National Forest. This is an important step in stopping the decline in these species and keeping them off the Endangered Species list.”