32 ELR 20568 | Environmental Law Reporter | copyright © 2002 | All rights reserved

League of Wilderness Defenders v. Zielinski

No. 02-75-HA (187 F. Supp. 2d 1263) (UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF OREGON February 25, 2002)

ELR Digest

The court issues a preliminary injunction halting salvage logging on fire charred lands in Oregon until the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) resolves serious questions raised by environmental groups as to whether the agency complied with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in authorizing the salvage logging. The BLM completed an environmental assessment (EA) for the logging but made a finding of no significant impact (FONSI) determination, and, thus did not complete an environmental impact statement (EIS). The groups challenged the BLM's finding and sought a temporary restraining order halting the logging. The court first holds that although much of the salvage logging is already complete, the balance of harms favors the issuance of an injunction to protect the environment from further logging or thinning. The groups raised serious questions as to whether the salvage logging will have an impact on the environment. There are serious questions as to whether the BLM's EA violated NEPA by failing to disclose respected scientific evidence in contrast to the BLM's final decision to allow the salvage logging and the impacts that such logging would have on the environment. Serious questions also exist as to whether the BLM should have prepared an EIS for the salvage logging, considering opposing scientific evidence and the BLM's conclusion, unsupported by the record, that snow cover would mitigate environmental concerns. Moreover, the groups raised serious questions as to whether the BLM adequately addressed the applicable cumulative impacts of the salvage logging and other activities in the area. Another serious question was whether the BLM adequately considered a rehabilitation-only or restoration alternative to salvage logging. Therefore, the logging is enjoined until the BLM addresses the serious questions raised by the groups.

The full text of this decision is available from ELR (16 pp., ELR Order No. L-478).

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Christopher G. Winter
Cascade Resources Advocacy Group
5401 N. Channel Ave., Portland OR 97217
(503) 286-3002

Counsel for Defendants
Thomas C. Lee, Ass't U.S. Attorney
U.S. Attorney's Office
1000 SW Third Ave., Ste. 600, Portland OR 97204
(503) 727-1000


32 ELR 20568 | Environmental Law Reporter | copyright © 2002 | All rights reserved