`Goddamn goshawks'

  Last summer, loggers discovered a nest with two rare goshawk fledglings on the Headquarters timber sale, west of Laramie, Wyo. With permission from the Forest Service they cut trees within yards of the nest, causing the adults to abandon the nest and the fledglings to die. Environmentalists blasted the agency and loggers for failing to halt logging within a quarter-mile of the nest, as required by the forest's management plan and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Pat Thrasher, an agency spokesperson, admits the agency failed to write protections into the sale, though he says the agency could have invoked the law. "It was an oversight on our part," he says.

Maybe not. An in-house memo written by agency biologist Jerry Mastel at the time of the logging suggests the Forest Service should have known that the logging would jeopardize wildlife. "Hammer (Timber and Lumber Co.) has a very bad attitude: goddamn FS (Forest Service), goddamn goshawk, next time we find one we're just going to cut the goddamn thing down ..."

In an interview, Mastel stood by his memo: "What I really wanted to do is to turn enough heads that this wouldn't happen again, and I think it succeeded." Shortly after the incident, Medicine Bow and Routt National Forest Supervisor Jerry Schmidt sent a memo to his employees saying future contracts should include protection for rare species, even if found after the sale. If necessary, Schmidt wrote, officials should breach contracts to protect species.

*Warren Cornwall

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