MEDFORD, Oregon – Today, conservation organizations WildEarth Guardians and the Oregon Wildlife Service have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service Regulation for misrepresenting the environmental impact of three projects in the Fremont-Winma National Forest in south-central Oregon. The companies have violated National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by failing to analyze the impact of trade deforestation on thousands of hectares of national forest, which is part of the South Warner, Bear, and Baby Bear log projects. The organizations are represented by Crag Law Center.
In order to fulfill its obligation to analyze the impact of the broad business record of the projects, the Forest Service relied on special exclusions, which exempt certain projects from the usual NEPA official declaration and appeal requirements. CEs are used for low, low impact, normal operation to replace canals or rebuild part of the track. Here, forest service, based on CE-6, excludes “wood stand and wildlife habitat improvement” activities such as to improve growth or reduce the risk of fire, such as combustion or brush control and combustion. The agency Although it adopted CE-6 in 1992, it has never used segregation to pass environmental analysis for projects that include business logs.
“Forest services are misleading the public about what these projects will include. They are cutting down commercial timber – valuable trees are being uprooted from the forest – and this will require heavy equipment and roads to disrupt the soil, erode streams, pollute the environment and accumulate carbon.” “Over the past few years, the Forest Service has taken the re-designation of woodworking or housing improvement projects with the commercial framework in order to analyze and inform the public about the effects of deforestation on public lands,” said Chris Crupp, a WildEarth parent. What the Law Requires ”
The three projects being challenged reflect the agency’s growing desire to build on CE-6, regardless of the size and scope of the business involved. The South Warner project allowed 16,000 acres of business (25 square miles), Bear Wallow 10,000 acres (15+ square miles) and Baby Bear 3,000 acres (4+ square miles).
“Sowing of our national forests has a complex impact on the environment and must be carefully planned. For 50 years, Congress has had to make federal agencies aware of environmental impacts and involve the public in decision-making. Said Doug Heikon.
The lawsuit also alleges that deforestation – a significant reduction in trade size and the size of the three projects allowed here – will not have a significant impact on the environment. Such a decision is necessary if projects involving the business sector are to be excluded from NEPA authority in order to assess the agency’s environmental impact by evaluating it or more generally.
Craig Legal Center Oliver Stiffel: “Class exclusions basically represent negotiations between the forest service and the public. “Before adopting the new CE, the forest service group must ensure that the environmental impact is minimal. Instead, the forest service will later provide a project that is compatible with CE, otherwise it will be able to analyze and publish a list of important environmental impacts. The forest service here did not last until the end of the negotiations – the reliance on wood for 29,000 hectares of land on CE is unprecedented.
A copy of the complaint can be found here at https://pdf.wildearthguardians.org/support_docs/CE6-Oregon-Complaint.pdf