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The Seattle Post-Intelligencer


Judge allows timber company to log to prevent 'financial harm'

Monday, August 21, 2000


BEND, Ore. -- A U.S. district judge has denied an environmental group's request for a temporary restraining order against a company seeking to log a timber sale in the Ochoco National Forest.

The Portland-based Blue Mountain Biodiversity Project of the League of Wilderness Defenders claims logging of the Black Bear sale in the Paulina District will severely affect soil compaction and wildlife corridors.

It was seeking the restraining order against Prairie City-based D.R. Johnson Lumber Co. while U.S. District Judge Garr King considered a larger lawsuit filed by the group in April challenging the Black Bear sale and two other timber sales in the national forest.

In denying the order, King on Tuesday said a U.S. Forest Service environmental assessment shows the ecological impact to the area from logging does not outweigh the financial harm the restraining order would cause to the company.

D.R. Johnson can now complete logging of the sale before the judge even decides whether the three sales should occur, according to Jennifer Schemm, the attorney representing the Biodiversity Project.

She said a hearing on a motion for a summary judgment will be held Oct. 2.

"We're just hoping it won't all be logged by the time the judge makes a decision in that hearing," Schemm said. "It's frustrating."

Chuck Burley, of the Northwest Forestry Association, a timber industry advocate, said the case is significant for other timber companies fighting environmental groups over logging on public lands.

He said it's the first time in recent memory a judge has decided the financial risk to a timber company outweighs environmental concerns raised by conservation groups.

"(King) said environmental protection is in the public's interest, but so is the economic viability of the companies," Burley said.

2000 The Associated Press.



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