U.S. Forest Service Sued over Logging in Oregon
SEATTLE A group of U.S. Forest Service employees has filed a lawsuit against the federal agency because the workers say it is allowing lumber companies to log forests recovering from wildfires in violation of environmental laws.
At issue in the lawsuit is part of the 5,839 acres of ponderosa pine, larch, Douglas and white fir burned in July 2002 in a fire in the Malheur National Forest.
The Forest Service, an agency of the Department of Agriculture, "has decided to log 'dying trees' in the Easy Fire Recovery Project that are, in fact alive and well," said a lawsuit filed Friday in U.S. District Court for Oregon by the Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics.
The Forest Service declined comment on the lawsuit.
The charred forests of the western United States have become a battleground pitting the Bush administration and timber industries against environmental groups and others.
Many environmental groups maintain that forest fires are a natural part of the life cycle of forests and that logging the timber will harm the forests. Environmental groups say that the burned trees act as fertilizer for the forests.
The timber industry thinks the burned areas can be a good place to cut timber to satisfy the American demand for wood products.
Chris West, vice president at the American Forest Resource Center, a timber industry group, said harvesting timber in burned areas aids in the recovery of forests, wildlife habitats and watersheds.
The lawsuit is one of dozens filed in recent years trying to stop logging in the blackened forests of the West.