Judge fells federal timber project

Judge fells federal timber project

By John Driscoll
The Eureka Times-Standard

October 15, 2004

A U.S. Magistrate judge has blocked a timber sale on the Mendocino National Forest after finding the project’s full effects weren’t examined.

In his Wednesday ruling, Judge Edward Chen granted the Environmental Protection Information Center’s main motion against the timber sale.

If the sale were to go forward, Chen wrote in the 65-page ruling for the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, old-growth trees would be cut with no means to replace them for years. Those trees are depended on by protected species like the northern spotted owl, the goshawk, marten and fisher.

Chen also considered the loss of timber — about $665,000 worth — to the surrounding communities. But he said that with the proper environmental analysis, the project could be approved with the only harm being from delay.

EPIC’s Cynthia Elkins said the judge recognized the effects that fragmenting the forest would have on imperiled species.

“It’s a resounding victory for fish and wildlife and watersheds on our public lands,” she said.

Mendocino National Forest Supervisor Jim Fenwood said the order is still being digested. He said the intent is to proceed with the project.

“We’ll have to go back and look at our approach and see specifically what the judge said we failed to do,” Fenwood said.