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Logs to leave Deer Mom sale per BLM accord with activists

SELMA-- Environmental activist Mort Mondale, one of the leaders in an effort to stop the Deer Mom timber sale, will passively watch log trucks haul logs from the controversial sale Friday morning.

The 8,000 board feet of Bureau of Land Management timber to be hauled away, about three truckloads, is the result of an agreement between environmentalists and the BLM.

Logging on the timber sale, located in the Deer Creek drainage east of Selma, was stopped after U.S. District Judge William Dwyer in Seattle ruled late in August that Deer Mom was one of the sales that violated the 1994 Northwest Forest Plan.

However, he instructed environmental groups and the BLM and U.S. Forest Service to work out an agreement on what to do with trees that had been cut but not hauled away.

That included the decked logs, roughly 78 trees, in the Deer Mom sale. The environmental groups, including Ashland-based Headwaters and the Deer Creek Valley Natural Resources Conservation Association, agreed with the BLM that the decked logs should be removed.

A decked log is one which has been brought to a landing.

But the environmentalists balked at the removal of some 14,000 board feet of timber which they say was cut illegally in the morning immediately after Dwyer made his ruling.

Mondale and his wife, Elaine Wood, have been asked to serve as observers Friday morning.

We've agreed that they should be allowed to pick up the logs they felled legally, Mondale said. But we didn't feel they should be able to pick up the logs they felled in violation of Dwyer's injunction.

The logs being removed represent about .3 percent of the 2.7 million-board-foot sale, which has been purchased by Superior Timber Co. of Glendale.

This is part of the agreement we reached, said Karen Perault, spokeswoman for the BLM's Medford District. We will remove only the logs that have been decked, but not the others that are on the ground. The other trees that have been cut will remain on the ground for now.

All told, about 104,000 board feet of timber was cut on the sale before Dwyer's ruling.

Dwyer had ruled that the Forest Service and the BLM had failed to adhere to a Northwest Forest Plan requirement to survey 77 species of rare plants and wildlife before selling the timber.

His decision placed a legal logjam in front of some 49 million board feet of timber planned for logging in the BLM's Medford District.

The decision also halted logging on roughly 85 million board feet of federal timber elsewhere in Oregon.

The ruling prevents logging on the sales before the judge makes another ruling based on issues raised in a legal briefing set for Oct. 22.

Dwyer's actions are the result of a 1998 lawsuit brought by 13 environmental groups, including Headwaters.

There are currently 12 timber sales containing roughly 46 million board of timber in the BLM's Medford District where logging is currently under way.