Logging Roads and Stormwater

Northwest Environmental Defense Center v. Brown

Logging road along the Wilson River in the Tillamook State Forest

In 2000, EPA found that sediment from logging pollution was the fifth leading source of water quality impairment nation-wide.   Throughout the Pacific Northwest, stormwater from logging roads carries extremely high levels of sediment directly into fish-bearing streams and spawning areas.  While we invest billions of dollars in salmon recovery, the timber industry continues to degrade salmon habitat and water quality by failing to adequately manage and maintain its extensive road network.

For several years, the Crag Law Center has been working with its client – the Northwest Environmental Defense Center - and its co-counsel – the Washington Forest Law Center – to protect rivers in the Tillamook State Forest, managed by the Oregon Department of Forestry – from these polluting activities.  In August of 2010, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in a unanimous opinion, ruled that these discharges must be covered by permits issued under the Clean Water Act.  The court affirmed its opinion in May of 2011.  You can read the 2011 opinion here.

Most recently, the Environmental Protection Agency, despite admitting that this is a serious source of pollution, indicated that it would take action to exempt polluted discharges from logging roads from the permitting requirements of the Clean Water Act.  An article on EPA’s recent announcement can be found here.

Since that time, the timber industry and the State of Oregon asked that the Supreme Court review the decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In June 2012 the Supreme Court agreed to review the case and, with the Washington Forest Law Center,  Crag attorney Chris Winter will argue the case on behalf of the Northwest Environmental Defense Center in Washington, D.C. in late November or Early December.

Take Action

Please email EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and President Obama and ask them to ensure that industrial logging road pollution remains regulated under the Clean Water Act’s NPDES permit program. Tell them you oppose efforts to exempt the timber industry and logging roads from the Clean Water Act.

Click here to email EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.

Click here to email President Obama.

For more information, please contact Crag Staff Attorney Chris Winter at 503-525-2725 or chris@crag.org.

Stormwater discharge into the Trask River in the Tillamook State Forest

Best Management Practices (BMPs) on the Tillamook State Forest