Judge blocks Klamath logging plan

Judge blocks Klamath logging plan

By Don Thompson
Associated Press

October 16, 2004

A federal judge has blocked logging proposed for the Klamath National Forest in Siskiyou County, chiding the U.S. Forest Service for its review of the environmental damage that would result.

The service should have done a full environmental review and done a better job projecting the impact on wildlife and forest conditions, ruled U.S. District Judge Frank C. Damrell Jr.

He barred any logging until a review is completed.
The forest service wanted to log 1,354 acres along Beaver Creek northwest of Yreka, selling enough timber to generate more than $500,000 to improve the watershed.

The Environmental Protection Information Center, Klamath Forest Alliance and Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center sued in Sacramento federal court last year after the service decided it did not need to conduct a full environmental damage assessment of the cut near the Oregon border.

Damrell said the service should have done the full review particularly after finding there would be some impact on 500 acres of northern spotted owl habitat, and would increase erosion into Hungry Creek for at least three years.

Cynthia Elkins of EPIC said the project would have removed nearly all of the remaining old growth timber in an already damaged watershed, and the erosion could hurt salmon and steelhead.

Much of the area around the proposed cut is privately owned and has suffered from logging and grazing, she said. She said the service should also examine the cumulative effects of other planned timber cuts in the area.

The timber cut was proposed under Democratic former President Clinton’s 1994 Northwest Forest Plan to both protect old growth forests and provide logging jobs, said service spokesman Matt Mathes. The service has been doing its best to meet both goals, he said, though he couldn’t comment directly on Damrell’s decision.

“President Clinton intended for us to cut larger trees in Northern California as well as to protect older trees and the wildlife that depends on them,” Mathes said. “It’s not an easy job. But the idea was to not leave these small towns high and dry.”