Cove-Mallard warms up for another summer

  • Forest Service officials nab protesters blocking a logging road

    Martin Stephan
  No sooner had the courts given the Forest Service a go-ahead to resume logging in Idaho's Cove-Mallard than activists took to the woods to begin a sixth straight year of protest.

Nez Perce National Forest officials responded by arresting two activists perched in 40-foot-high tripods. The June 18 arrests came one week after U.S. Magistrate Larry Boyle ruled against the Idaho Sporting Congress in its suit to halt logging and 145 miles of road-building.

Nez Perce Forest staffer Ihor Mereszczak said the court decision proves once again the Forest Service is in the right: "We've gone way beyond meeting the law," he said.

Disagreeing is Ron Mitchell of the Idaho Sporting Congress, which has now lost two federal court cases and one appeals case since 1994. The group recently filed another appeal with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

"Just obey the law. That's what we're asking them to do, and they haven't done that since 1990," Mitchell said. That's when the Nez Perce National Forest finished plans to log in the 67,000-acre Cove-Mallard, which lies between the Gospel Hump and Frank Church-River of No Return wilderness areas.

While activists claim their 40 days of road blocks held up logging crews last summer, a logging official says they were only an "annoyance." Crews will continue where they left off last year, said John Bennett of the Grangeville, Idaho-based Shearer Lumber Co. "We're going to carry out our end of the contract," he said.

*Dustin Solberg