After years of bitter battles against environmentalists, attorney and group co-founder and Michael Jackson can't help gloating. "This is absolute complete vindication," he says.
The Forest Service decision, which came out of an environmental impact statement Aug. 20, covers 2.4 million acres of the Plumas, Lassen and Tahoe national forests. It walks a tightrope between environmental laws and a 1998 law passed by Congress that requires the agency to follow a five-year forest-management experiment developed by the Quincy coalition (HCN, 11/9/98). To reduce the threat of forest fires, the plan allows logging of up to 286 million board-feet a year, slightly less than the 319 million board-feet sought by the Quincy Library Group.
At the same time, the Forest Service prohibited timber harvests in over 420,000 acres of spotted owl habitat until the agency adopts a long-term strategy for protecting spotted owls and other wildlife across the Sierra Nevada. Without that modification, the Quincy plan risked violating the National Forest Management Act, says Mark Madrid, Plumas Forest supervisor.
For opponents of the controversial Quincy strategy, the Forest Service decision to go ahead is a deep disappointment that "ignores scientists and the American public," says Louis Blumberg, a senior policy analyst with The Wilderness Society. His group is considering a lawsuit.
"Bring it on," replies Jackson, who adds that the Quincy Library Group will intervene in any legal action against the Forest Service.
* Jane Braxton Little