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Judge halts post-fire logging in the Willamette National Forest

Post fire areas in the Hwy 46 project area contain a lot of live trees.
Photo courtesy Michael Hudson.
Post fire areas in the Hwy 46 project area contain a lot of live trees.

A Eugene federal judge Friday put a stay on post-fire logging in the Willamette National Forest near Breitenbush Hot Springs and Detroit Lake. The area was affected by the 2020 Labor Day Fires.

Conservation groups Cascadia Wildlands and Oregon Wild sued to stop the logging saying the Forest Service did not follow proper environmental review.

They claim the Forest Service changed its logging plans after the fires from restorative thinning to clearcutting without a public process. In a statement issued to the media, Meriel Darzen of the Crag Law Center, represented the conservation groups.

“Both the catastrophic 2020 fires and the Forest Service’s decision to implement ‘salvage’ where it was originally going to do selective thinning and burning were significant changes that required new analysis and public involvement,” she said. “Cascadia and Oregon Wild were heavily invested in these projects and are deeply concerned about the recovery of these areas after the fires; the Forest Service’s backroom decision to log these sensitive recently burned areas with no analysis is harmful to the forest and the communities that are still recovering from the fires.”

In court filings, the Forest Service said it "thoroughly assessed the significance and likely effects of implementing previously-awarded sales after the fire.”

It said it concluded the project would not have “significant new effects.”

The logging was already underway and the ruling by Judge Ann Aiken puts a temporary stop to it.

Copyright 2021 KLCC

Rachael McDonald is KLCC’s host for All Things Considered on weekday afternoons. She also is the editor of the KLCC Extra, the daily digital newspaper. Rachael has a BA in English from the University of Oregon. She started out in public radio as a newsroom volunteer at KLCC in 2000.