Oregonian Editorial Board on Forest Roads

While we’re waiting for the objections rule, thought I’d post a few miscellaneous items..

Here’s a link and below are some excerpts.

Forest owners, logging companies and those who value gainful employment won a significant victory Wednesday in the U.S. Supreme Court, which opined that logging roads are not point sources of pollution requiring discharge permits under the Clean Water Act. The lopsided, 7-1 decision reversed the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, whose wisdom promised, warned Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., in 2011, to “bury private, state and tribal forest lands in a wave of litigation.”

Party time, right?

Not quite. As important as the decision is for forest owners, some of them are keeping the bubbly on ice until Congress makes the long-standing policy challenged by environmental groups a matter of law. Can you blame them, given the determination of litigants to keep right on litigating and prodding?


Meanwhile, environmental lawyer Paul Kampmeier told The Oregonian’s Scott Learn last week, his organization, the Washington Forest Law Center, will keep right on “pushing EPA to do something …” And why not? As Kampmeier pointed out, “The court generally ruled that the ball’s in the EPA’s court.”

The most effective way to provide long-term security for forest owners is to change the law, as legislation sponsored during the last Congress by Wyden and others would do. Unfortunately, the legislation died despite gathering a bipartisan collection of sponsors. It deserves another shot.

This seems to be another of those “Congress should act” kinds of things…perhaps we need a grassroots movement for “Congress stepping up” in some of these areas? Perhaps a “sustainable forests and national forest communities” Manifesto?

2 thoughts on “Oregonian Editorial Board on Forest Roads”

  1. I asked John Barnwell, SAF’s Forest Policy Director (recently promoted from assistant director) about any Congressional action on the Silviculture Regulatory Consistency Act or similar legislation, which SAF has suported. His reply today:

    “We anticipate introduction of a bill very similar to the previous bill introduced during the previous Congress with some language inserted to address the concerns raised by the Ninth Circuit in a 2003 ruling. The Court instructed the EPA to determine if forest roads are point sources subject to a permit requirement or other federal authority under its discretionary authority within the point source rules. The EPA attempted to address this question in the ruel filed November 30th that is currently being challenged by the Northwest Environmental Defense Center in the Ninth Circuit Court. We expect the original cosponsors to introduce the bill in the House Jamie Herrera Beutler and Kurt Schrader in the House and Senator Wyden and Senator Crapo in the Senate soon after they return from recess on April 8th.”


  2. Have no idea of whether these gravel/dirt forest roads were intended to be covered under the CWA or not…I am not a lawyer.

    Just want to say that there is no question that these roads, particularly the roads up on the upper third of a steep slope in the Rockies, are clearly the worst culprits in respect to silt and sediment in any downstream streams and lakes. If we could afford to log these steep mountain slopes without any roads, so much of the environmental concerns would disappear (at least in my mind).
    So I guess we should pray and hope for record high log/lumber prices, so that these values would offset more helicopter logging. In today’s economy, this might mean a few years or so.
    So lets all cheer for a robust economy, lots of building of new homes/businesses and record lumber/log prices.


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