If people want federal agencies to not break the law, then the FS is not breaking the law and I can’t see that the lawsuit has helped that to happen, but maybe I’m missing something.
Here’s the link, and below is an excerpt.
In a Friday ruling, District Judge Owen Panner said the Forest Service is complying with laws because it has agreed not to thin in areas that have a special designation as “restricted riparian” land.
On land labeled “restricted watershed,” the Forest Service plans to do helicopter logging, which will cause minimal impact to the soil, according to new testimony in the case from Don Boucher, the Forest Service’s project manager.
Any exposed soil will be promptly covered with slash from thinning operations, Boucher said.
Panner said those adjustments to avoid “restricted riparian” land and cover exposed soil in “restricted watershed” areas are allowed.
In 2012, U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Clarke had ruled against Navickas and Lininger on other claims regarding the project, but had upheld their claim that the project could expose too much soil, which could lead to erosion.
On Monday, Navickas said he was disappointed that Panner did not uphold the previous decision.
Navickas said he doesn’t think that scattering branches from thinning operations on exposed soil protects the soil as much as leaving standing trees intact.
“The Ashland watershed is for water production. It’s not timber resource land,” he said.
Navickas said he and Lininger plan to appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The city of Ashland and the Nature Conservancy are partners with the Forest Service on the Ashland Forest Resiliency Project.
Last week, the City Council approved passing up to $975,000 in federal economic stimulus money to Columbia Helicopters to do thinning work on Forest Service land in the watershed as part of the project.
The council also approved a contract of up to $335,000 — also funded by stimulus dollars — for Columbia Helicopters to thin the Winburn Parcel, a 160-acre, city-owned island of forested land in the middle of the watershed.
Also, I didn’t know that there was a legal concept that any treatments must protect the soil during the treatment as much as not treating. I thought you just had to describe the impacts during NEPA.
He doesn’t think that scattering branches from thinning operations on exposed soil protects the soil as much as leaving standing trees intact.
It seems fair to me that federal court and Forest Service costs be claimed from the plaintiffs. It should be easy to calculate, after all, everyone’s salary is public information. A side benefit is that we would actually learn the costs.