Federal District Court Rejects Forest Service’s Attempt to Dismiss Suit That Seeks To Enforce the Requirements of the 2009 Mt. Hood Wilderness Bill
On January 6, 2016, a Federal District Court in Oregon rejected the Forest Service’s attempt to dismiss a case challenging the agency’s failure to complete a land exchange required by the 2009 Omnibus Public Lands Act. The Act, a result of organized pressure by the Hood River Valley Residents Committee (HRVRC) and thousands of Oregon citizens, directs Mt. Hood Meadows to trade 770 acres at Cooper Spur to the Forest Service for 120 acres at Government Camp. The Act then protects the Cooper Spur land by designating it as a Wilderness area of the Mt. Hood National Forest with a special watershed protection zone.
Crag attorney Ralph Bloemers is representing HRVRC in this case. “So much is riding on this land trade,” said Bloemers, “including important protections for new Wilderness and the Crystal Springs watershed.”
In sum, the protection of over 4,000 acres of roadless forest and drinking watershed is at stake if the Forest Service doesn’t complete the land trade.
Mike McCarthy, an orchardist who lives in the upper valley and member of the HRVRC is pleased that the case is moving forward. “While we are prepared to settle this case and get down to the business of completing the land trade,” he notes, “we also will not sit idly by and let the Forest Service run this into the ground.”
In addition to Federal District Court Judge Anna Brown’s decision to reject the Forest Service’s attempt to dismiss the case, Judge Brown also issued an order requiring the Forest Service to file monthly reports on the progress of the land trade while the case is pending. As Ralph Bloemers writes, “We are very pleased that the court has required monthly check-ins to ensure this historic solution is achieved.”