Eugene environmentalists cheer judge’s recommendation on timber sale northwest of Crater Lake

3/22/2017
Dylan Darling

A federal judge in Eugene has recommended that Umpqua National Forest planners better study the environmental impacts of a potential timber sale 60 miles east of Roseburg, near Crater Lake National Park, before it can go ahead.

Forest officials say the Loafer timber sale would thin overgrown pine stands and create shrubland patches on about 1,450 acres.

Environmentalists say the logging would take away precious northern spotted owl habitat and degrade popular recreation magnets, including the North Umpqua Trail and Umpqua Hot Springs.

The logging would occur in federal forestland northwest of Crater Lake National Park.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Jolie Russo issued her recommendation Monday, stopping the U.S. Forest Service for the time being from moving forward with its plans for the Loafer timber sale.

Another federal judge soon will review the recommendation in the ongoing court case.

Eugene-based Cascadia Wildlands and Portland-based Oregon Wild have been fighting the planned project.

The Western Environmental Law Center, based in Eugene, is representing the environmental groups, and in June 2016 filed a lawsuit challenging the Loafer timber sale.

Russo’s 26-page finding brought cheers from the environmental groups.

“This is an acknowledgement that impacts to threatened species and our limited amount of undeveloped areas require in-depth analysis before they can move forward,” Wildlands Campaign Director Robin Meacher of Cascadia Wildlands said Tuesday in a news release.

Environmental groups in recent years have called for wilderness designation to protect the woods where the U.S. Forest Service is planning the Loafer timber sale and other nearby logging.

“Not only would this timber sale impact popular recreation opportunities on the North Umpqua Trail and Umpqua Hot Springs, but it (also) bulldozes its way into remote backcountry areas that deserve to be wilderness,” said Doug Heiken, conservation coordinator at Oregon Wild.

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