When the U.S. Forest Service set aside a steep and damaged portion of the Boise National Forest for a timber sale called Thunderbolt early this fall, environmentalists in Idaho filed one of the first lawsuits against a salvage sale. Now the 13 million board feet has sold for $1 million, and the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund hopes to stop the Boise Cascade Corp. before it starts cutting.
Although salvage sales are
exempt from environmental laws and citizen appeals, the Defense
Fund says it will try to prove the sale is "arbitrary and
capricious." Or, as the Idaho Conservation League's John McCarthy
says, "We must prove stupidity and mindlessness' on the part of the
Defense Fund attorney Kristin
Boyles thinks there's plenty of evidence to prove that point. Heavy
logging in the area in the 1960s caused huge landslides that dumped
three feet of dirt into the river, clogging chinook spawning and
rearing habitat. Even though management plans for the Payette and
Boise national forest plans in the 1980s placed a moratorium on
logging to let chinook habitat recover, the Forest Service put
Thunderbolt up for salvage after a fire swept through the area last
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the
National Marine Fisheries Service and the Environmental Protection
Agency all say chinook habitat is still dangerously polluted.
Environmentalists also fear that if the timber industry cuts roads
through this area, it will lead to logging of green trees in the
nearby proposed Caton Lakes Wilderness.
Forest Service defends the sale, however, saying it's one of the
only ways to raise revenue to restore the damaged habitat. Attorney
Boyles disagrees: "You cannot trash a forest in order to save it."