Grants Pass, OR, USA — A federal judge who threw out the Bush administration’s new rules for logging in roadless areas of national forests has refused to halt a timber harvest resulting from the 2002 Biscuit fire.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth LaPorte in San Francisco ruled Tuesday there was no clear precedent for stopping a timber sale that was approved prior to her ruling and that Silver Creek Timber Co. of Merlin, Ore., would suffer serious economic harm if it could not finish harvesting the Blackberry timber sale in the North Kalmiopsis roadless area of the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.
The Biscuit fire burned in 500,000 acres of southwestern Oregon and became the focus of political and legal battles among conservation groups, the Bush administration and the timber industry over logging burnedtrees.
Last month LaPorte reinstated the Clinton administration’s ban on road construction in roadless areas, which account for nearly a third of national forests. She found that the Bush administration failed to conduct necessary environmental studies before making changes that allowed states to decide how to manage individual national forests.
Blackberry is the last salvage logging on national forest burned by the Biscuit fire. Conservation groups have failed to stop any of them. The timber output from logging Biscuit was a fraction of Forest Service expectations. A General Accounting Office report found the Forest Service lost $2 million on the project, which it had hoped would generate revenues to reforest the area.