Federal Judge Upholds Forest Service Decision On Ecosystem Restoration Project
Spokane – Michael C. Ormsby, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced that United States District Court Judge Fred Van Sickle upheld the Forest Service's decision to proceed with a 3,900-acre ecosystem restoration project on the Umatilla National Forest.
According to information disclosed during the court proceedings, the Forest Service had proposed the project, consisting of timber harvest and fuel reduction in the South George area of the Pomeroy Ranger District. Much of the timber harvesting consists of thinning, designed to remove smaller trees that have grown into the forests after decades of fire suppression. The timber harvesting and fuel reduction were designed to return forest conditions closer to historic conditions and thereby reduce the risk of large, catastrophic wildfires. The project had been challenged by The Lands Council, the Hells Canyon Preservation Council, and the League of Wilderness Defenders – Blue Mountain Biodiversity Project. The American Forest Resource Council and Asotin County, Washington had intervened in the lawsuit.
Michael C. Ormsby stated, "Judicial review of agency decisions is an important process in our form of government. Here, the Forest Service properly analyzed the environmental impacts of the proposed project and ensured compliance with the numerous environmental laws that govern activities of many land management agencies."
The case was defended by Rudy J. Verschoor, an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington and Julie Thrower, an attorney with the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.