in the Pacific Northwest just got a break. In late May, the 9th
Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the National Marine Fisheries
Service must re-examine how logging affects endangered salmon
before 24 federal timber sales can proceed. That may mean loggers
would provide larger buffers around riparian areas, thin units
instead of clear-cutting or abort some sales
Says Patti Goldman of the nonprofit
group Earthjustice Legal Fund, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of
a coalition of commercial fishermen: "We don't want gridlock. But
the government must heed science and protect
The National Marine Fisheries Service
was "bowled over" by the ruling. "We thought we were using
sufficient and sound science," says agency spokesman Brian Gorman.
Now, he says, it will likely take even longer for federal agencies
to sell timber.
That's all part of
environmentalists' plans, says Chris West of the American Forest
Resource Council. "They are using salmon as a surrogate for their
true agenda, which is zero cut."
If the ruling
isn't challenged in the Supreme Court, it could set a precedent for
how 170 upcoming timber sales are managed on public lands in
Washington, Oregon and Northern