Environmental group sues over post-fire tree removal
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — An environmental group is suing the U.S. Forest Service claiming it unlawfully approved the removal of burned trees in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.
The Klamath Forest Alliance's lawsuit accuses the agency of improperly “categorically excluding” the Slater Fire Safe Re-entry Project from environmental analysis, Capital Press reported.
The complaint alleges that logging trees along 146 miles (235 kilometers) of roadsides without an “environmental assessment” or a more rigorous “environmental impact statement” violates the National Environmental Policy Act.
The project is expected to generate about 30 million board-feet of timber — enough to fill 6,000 logging trucks — which is larger than intended for a “categorical exclusion” based on “repair and maintenance,” the environmental group said.
The Slater Fire started in September 2020 in southern Oregon and spread over 157,000 acres.
Removing the trees will also mean eliminating some habitat for the threatened northern spotted owl, the complaint said.
Even though the Forest Service acknowledges the treatment is “likely to adversely affect” the spotted owl, it hasn’t consulted with other agencies on the impacts, as required under the Endangered Species Act, according to the lawsuit.
The plaintiff has asked a federal judge to overturn the project’s approval and halt its implementation until the Forest Service has proven it complies with environmental laws.
Capital Press was unable to reach a representative of the Forest Service for comment.