Idaho salmon suit angers locals

  Setting off a firestorm of local protest in Idaho, a federal judge ruled Jan. 9 that the Forest Service should temporarily halt mining, grazing, logging and road-building activities on six national forests. U.S. District Judge David Ezra said that the agency had to stop all ongoing activities until it consulted with federal biologists about effects on endangered salmon. The ruling, which responded to a lawsuit brought by the Wilderness Society and the Pacific Rivers Council, provoked quick responses from communities surrounding the Challis-Salmon, Sawtooth, Nez Perce, Boise and Payette national forests. "Do they want to see just how violent we can become?" Gary Barrett, owner of the Lantern Bar in Salmon, asked in the Idaho Falls Post-Register. "You can only push people so far." The ruling could have shut down mines employing some 800 people. But before the injunction could go into effect, Judge Ezra issued a temporary stay until Jan. 28 to allow an appeal for the Forest Service and industry groups. Later, at the request of the environmental plaintiffs, he extended the stay until March 15 to complete its consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service. The plaintiffs, who have taken a lot of heat, including some from their own environmental colleagues, say the intense reaction was fanned by industry misinformation. But their attorney Kristen Boyles says the judge made it clear that the injunction was only meant to be temporary and target those projects that could harm the salmon.

*Paul Larmer

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