In court to defend coastal range forests

Challenging a logging plan in the Siuslaw River Watershed

last updated February 8, 2024

We must continue to hold the line against logging projects. Photo © MauroPedro1969 via Canva.com

We must continue to hold the line against logging projects. Photo © MauroPedro1969 via Canva.com

On Feb 8, 2024, we had oral arguments in our case to protect the Siuslaw River Watershed.

We argued in front of a Eugene, Oregon U.S. District Magistrate judge to block the Bureau of Land Management’s attempt to clearcut 13,225 acres of public forests in the coast range foothills in the Siuslaw River Watershed, west of Eugene. Local residents strongly oppose the logging project, believing it will contribute to drinking water contamination, increased fire hazards, loss of recreation, soil erosion, more road construction and the destruction of wildlife habitat. That’s why our clients Cascadia Wildlands and Oregon Wild filed this legal challenge over a year ago to stop the logging project.

The Siuslaw logging project will clearcut mature and old growth forests that are home to at least four species protected by the Endangered Species Act, including northern spotted owl, marbled murrelet, and Chinook and Oregon Coast coho salmon.

Photo of Northern Spotted Owl by Kyle Sullivan, BLM, CC BY 2.0 DEED.

The government tried to dismiss the case, but we defeated that motion. This month, we argued in front of a U.S. District Magistrate Judge that the logging plan must not go into effect, because it violates the National Environmental Policy Act, and Endangered Species Act. Specifically, we argue that the Bureau of Land Management failed to take the requisite “hard look” at the environmental impacts of the project. 

“The Bureau is planning to clearcut thousands of acres of forest just outside of Eugene. The community deserves to know the details of the plan and the predicted environmental impacts—including on habitat, carbon storage, and drinking water. But the agency donned blinders to these impacts and cut the public out of the process—in violation of its core legal duties.”

Oliver Stiefel, Crag Staff Attorney

The Bureau of Land Management is required under federal environmental law to consider the negative impacts the proposed logging will have on our communities and weigh those impacts against the alleged benefits of timber volume generation logging, colloquially known as clearcutting.

Our clients are asking the Bureau of Land Management to consider the environmental impacts of the logging projects before they start cutting – as the law requires. Without doing an actual review of the impacts the logging would have on the ground, the agency is not doing its due diligence and denying the public meaningful ways to get involved.

Looking Ahead

What’s happening next? We are waiting for the judge to issue a decision. Stay tuned for updates!

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