BOISE—Conservation groups announce today that U.S. District Court of Idaho, Judge B. Lynn Winmill granted a preliminary injunction stopping the McGarry Timber sale in the Targhee National Forest, stating that the plaintiffs will likely prevail on its claim that the Revised Forest Plan is flawed.
The McGarry Timber sale proposed to log 3.5 million board feet of timber on about 500 acres of the Targhee National Forest in an important wildlife corridor.
Native Ecosystems Council, The Alliance for the Wild Rockies and The Ecology Center filed a comprehensive lawsuit in Federal District Court on June 7, 2004 against the U.S. Forest Service management plan for the Targhee National Forest in southeastern Idaho.
The Targhee National Forest is next to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. The Forest is home to diverse wildlife and fish, including threatened and endangered species. The lawsuit challenges the new forest plan’s lack of protection for old growth forest and old growth forest dependent species such as grizzly bears, great gray owls, and goshawks.
The Targhee National Forest (“TNF”) adopted its first forest plan in 1985, and was the first National Forest in the country to adopt a Revised Forest Plan (“RFP”) in 1997.
“The Targhee National Forest is trying to eliminate snags and other old growth habitat which are important for old growth dependent species,” said Sara Jane Johnson Ph.D. Dr. Johnson worked for the U.S. Forest Service, including the Targhee National Forest, for 14 years as a wildlife biologist. Dr. Johnson said, “The Targhee National Forest is an important wildlife corridor connecting Yellowstone National Park and the ecosystems of central Idaho and the rest of the northern Rockies.”
Michael Garrity, Executive Director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and a professional economist, said, “The McGarry timber sale was expected to lose over $200,000. It doesn’t make any economic sense for the Forest Service to spend thousands of dollars destroying important wildlife corridors.
“This Revised Forest Plan exemplifies the Bush administration’s approach to managing national forests,” stated Jeff Juel of the Ecology Center. “After repeatedly losing in court trying to ignore the original Forest Plan’s old-growth protection requirements, the Targhee’s Revised Forest Plan was written without any obligation to protect old growth, and with no recognition of the habitat and social values of these ancient forests.”
Dr. Johnson believes that, “clearcutting in the Targhee National Forest has reduced old growth dependent species including the grizzly bear, gray wolf, wolverine, fisher, pine marten, lynx, and goshawk to isolated and fragmented populations.”
Dr. Johnson said, “The issue of providing for the larger landscape needs of far-ranging forest carnivores reveals the need to utilize the principles of Conservation Biology on a landscape level. If we want the animals in Yellowstone Park to survive in the long run, linkages out of the Park with other core areas need to be established, providing sufficient habitat components so the linkages, or corridors, are functional for genetic interchange purposes.”
“The Forest Service could create far more jobs by complying with the law and restoring these forests, rather than continuing to build roads and log in grizzly bear habitat,” said Alliance for Wild Rockies Executive Director and economist Michael Garrity.
Spokesman Review, Spokane, Washington