Summary of news about environmental issues
Environmental groups filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, accusing the agency of failing to protect the California spotted owl and the Pacific fisher. The environmentalists, represented by Earthjustice, filed the lawsuit in federal court in San Francisco.
The two creatures, protected under the Endangered Species Act, depend on old growth forests, but old growth forests have been reduced by 60-85% by logging on Forest Service and private timberlands, according to Noah Greenwald of the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the plaintiffs.
An anonymous radical environmental group claimed responsibility for spiking hundreds of trees in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest near Vancouver, Wash. The spikes were intended to prevent logging on 99 acres of old growth forest, the group said in a message it sent via fax to the Earth Liberation Front, another environmental organization.
Two kinds of nails have been found, mostly in larger trees: 60-penny spikes, which are more than 6 inches long and a 1/4-inch in diameter, and smaller 16-penny nails.
The timber has not been sold, and logging is not expected until at least 2004 because of lawsuits aimed at protecting spotted owl habitat.
The U.S. Forest Service acted properly in maintaining openings in the Hoosier National Forest in Indiana, a federal judge ruled. U.S. District Judge David Hamilton dismissed the lawsuit brought by environmentalists.
Their lawsuit claimed that forest openings harmed some species, such as songbirds that need large, unbroken forests, and benefitted only a few game species.
The Hoosier National Forest has maintained 947 openings on 3,311 acres, representing about 1.7% of the 196,000-acre forest.
Foresters in Wisconsin urged Gov. Scott McCallum to approve a budget item that splits the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and forms a state Department of Forestry. They criticized forestry management under DNR, which has a forestry division within it.
Environmentalists, conservationists and outdoor enthusiasts opposed the creation of a separate forestry agency.
Even the forest products industry was not completely united behind the idea. Wayne Hamann, vice president of the Wisconsin Professional Loggers Association, said he as not sure a new forestry agency was the best solution to the problems in the forestry division.
Farmers in Klamath Falls, Ore. cheered when officials released water from the Klamath Irrigation Project for their farms. Their farms were left dry during a drought in order to conserve water for endangered fish.
The release was authorized by Interior Secretary Gale Norton. Conservation by ranchers and recent rains made it possible to help the farmers while meeting minimum lake levels required under the Endangered Species Act for suckerfish.
In the spring, federal officials determined that because of drought and the need to conserve the suckerfish and threatened coho salmon, there was not enough water for 90% of the 220,000 acres of farmland served by the irrigation project.
Sawmills in Oregon are declining to process logs from a hotly contested timber sale in Mount Hood National Forest because they hear they will be targeted by violent environmental radicals. Apparently it is the first time that sawmills have turned down much-needed wood because of the risk of violence.
About 40% of the 28 million board feet included in the 1996 timber sales has been cut and sold so far, but the lack of buyers for much of the remaining timber raises questions about the future of the logging project. It has been the subject of ongoing protests.
Some sawmills canceled plans to buy logs from Vanport Manufacturing — which bought the federal timber— following the June firebombing of three logging trucks.
Two environmental groups filed a lawsuit that is one of the first to challenge urban growth under the Endangered Species Act. The land that is the focus of the lawsuit is along the Snohomish River in Puget Sound, Wash. It has made a remarkable comeback after years of industrial use and now provides habitat for endangered chinook salmon.
The site, owned by the city of Everett, includes an old landfill and lumber mill. The city spent $10 million in the past decade to clean up the former landfill, and Everett officials say a mixed-use development will hurt neither salmon nor other wildlife.
The complaint was filed in federal court in Seattle by an Earthjustice lawyer.