Wanted: Dead or Mostly Dead

 

“The common understanding of the term ‘live’ is, quite simply, ‘not dead.’”

It may sound like something out of a Monty Python movie, but the above is actually a portion of the plaintiff’s argument in a U.S. Court of Appeals case decided last month in the Ninth Circuit. Environmentalists had issued a challenge to salvage logging on the Umatilla National Forest in eastern Oregon following a 2005 fire. The appeals case hinged on two points, one concerning so-called uninventoried roadless areas and the other — believe it or not — having to do with the definitions of "live" and “dead.”

The plaintiffs — including The Lands Council and Oregon Wild — argued that there’s really not much of a grey area between alive and not so alive, but the Forest Service claimed “live” is a technical term that doesn’t include dying trees. The court ruled in the agency’s favor, with the result that the Forest Service can make the call that a tree is likely to die and thus legally log it as salvage. (The ruling only applies to the specific salvage project that followed the 2005 fire in the Umatilla.)


But on the other matter — uninventoried roadless areas — environmentalists won the day. The court ruled that the agency failed to take the “hard look” required under the National Environmental Policy Act when it chose to conduct salvage logging on several of these areas following the Umatilla fire. (Inventoried roadless areas are Forest Service lands without roads or development that the government identified in one of two reviews conducted in the 1970s. Uninventoried roadless areas are similar pieces of land that were missed in those reviews.)

In Oregon alone, three million of the five million acres of roadless areas are uninventoried (and all swathes of land 1,000 acres or greater). Prior to the decision, the Forest Service’s activities on these lands were often not subject to public review. Now, says Ralph Bloemers, attorney for the plaintiffs, uninventoried areas in the Ninth Circuit will be subject to the same public review process as the inventoried.

“It’s not a prohibition on going into these areas,” Bloemer says, “but it shines the light of day on the Forest Service’s operations.”

For related stories, see Unsalvageable, Study questions value of post-fire logging and Of salvage logging and salvation.

High Country News Classifieds
  • DEPUTY DIRECTOR
    The Methow Valley Citizens Council has a distinguished history of advocating for progressive land use and environmental values in the Methow Valley and Okanogan County...
  • ACTING INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS DESK EDITOR
    High Country News is seeking an Acting Indigenous Affairs Editor to oversee the work of our award-winning Indigenous Affairs Desk while our editor is on...
  • GRANTS PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    The Cinnabar Foundation seeks an enthusiastic, team-oriented and knowledgeable Grants Program Director to work from their home in Montana. Established in 1983, the Cinnabar Foundation...
  • ARTEMIS PROGRAM MANAGER
    The Artemis Program Manager will work with National Wildlife Federation sporting and public lands staff to change this dynamic, continue to build upon our successful...
  • ALASKA SEA KAYAK BUSINESS FOR SALE
    Well-known and successful sea kayak, raft, hike, camp guiding & water taxi service. Sale includes everything needed to run the business, including office & gear...
  • MEMBERSHIP AND EVENTS PROGRAM COORDINATOR
    Great Old Broads for Wilderness seeks a detail-oriented and enthusiastic Membership and Events Coordinator to join our small, but mighty-fun team to oversee our membership...
  • PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT FACILITATOR
    ABOUT THE HIGH DESERT MUSEUM Since opening in 1982, HIGH DESERT MUSEUM has brought together wildlife, culture, art and natural resources to promote an understanding...
  • LAND STEWARD, ARAVAIPA
    Steward will live on-site in housing provided by TNC and maintains preserve areas frequented by the visiting public and performs land management activities. The Land...
  • DEVELOPMENT WRITER
    Who We Are: The Nature Conservancy's mission is to protect the lands and waters upon which all life depends. As a science-based organization, we create...
  • CONNECTIVITY SCIENCE COORDINATOR
    Position type: Full time, exempt Location: Bozeman preferred; remote negotiable Compensation: $48,000 - $52,000 Benefits: Major medical insurance, up to 5% match on a 401k,...
  • EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT
    ArenaLife is looking for an Executive Assistant who wants to work in a fast-paced, exciting, and growing organization. We are looking for someone to support...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Mountain Lion Foundation is seeking an Executive Director. Please see our website for further information - mountainlion.org/job-openings
  • WASHINGTON DC REPRESENTATIVE
    Position Status: Full-time, exempt Location: Washington, DC Position Reports to: Program Director The Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC) is seeking a Washington, DC Representative...
  • REGIONAL CAMPAIGN ORGANIZER
    Position Title: Regional Campaign Organizers (2 positions) Position Status: Full-time, exempt Location: Preferred Billings, MT; remote location within WORC's region (in or near Grand Junction...
  • STAFF ATTORNEY
    Western Watersheds Project seeks a Tenth Circuit Staff Attorney to bring litigation in the interests of protecting and restoring western watersheds and wildlife, particularly focused...
  • DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    Driggs, ID based non-profit. Full time. Full job description available at tvtap.org. Submit cover letter and resume to [email protected]
  • ENVIRONMENTAL AND CONSTRUCTION GEOPHYSICS
    - We find groundwater, buried debris and assist with new construction projects for a fraction of drilling costs.
  • SPRING MOUNTAINS SOLAR OFF GRID MOUNTAIN HOME
    Located 50 miles northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada in the pine forest of Lee Canyon at 8000 feet elevation. One of a kind property surrounded...
  • MAJOR GIFTS MANAGER - MOUNTAIN WEST, THE CONSERVATION FUND
    Cultivate, solicit and steward a portfolio of 75-125 donors.
  • NATURE'S BEST IN ARAVAIPA CANYON
    10 acre private oasis in one of Arizona's beautiful canyons. Fully furnished, 2123 sq ft architectural custom-built contemporary home with spectacular views and many extras....