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> Judge asserts federal power
> over logging in critical areas
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> Pacific Lumber injunction covers
> Humboldt tracts
>
> Sep. 4, 1998
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> By BOB EGELKO
> Associated Press
>
>
> SAN FRANCISCO -- A federal judge extended a
> logging ban on three Pacific Lumber Co. forest
> tracts in Humboldt County for at least several
> weeks Thursday in a case that could affect huge
> areas of the company's holdings.
>
> Chief U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel said
> she would rule on a further injunction once she
> heard conflicting testimony on whether
> endangered coho salmon exist in streams on the
> land and whether they could be harmed by
> logging. That hearing should be in about three
> weeks, said Brian Gaffney, a lawyer for
> environmental groups.
>
> Patel did rule in the environmentalists' favor on a
> critical issue in the case. She said logging on the
> company's privately owned land -- normally
> regulated only by the state -- could be blocked
> under federal law, to avoid potential harm to
> endangered species, while federal agencies are
> considering Pacific Lumber's habitat conservation
> plan.
>
> That plan is part of the company's $495 million
> agreement with the state and federal governments
> to convert the 7,500-acre Headwaters Forest, and
> another 2,000 acres of old-growth woodlands, into
> public preserves.
>
> The habitat conservation plan covers all 210,000
> acres of Pacific Lumber's holdings on the North
> Coast. In general, such plans designate sensitive
> areas that would be left untouched, and allow
> landowners to conduct operations in other areas
> that would not harm protected species.
>
> Gaffney, lawyer for the Environmental Protection
> Information Center and the Sierra Club, said after
> the hearing that Patel's ruling had the potential of
> at least temporarily blocking further logging on
> other Pacific Lumber property if environmentalists
> could show that endangered species lived there
> and were subject to harm.
>
> During the hearing, company lawyer Edgar
> Washburn told Patel that the environmental
> groups' legal argument, if accepted, would lead to
> "a total shutdown" with "catastrophic"
> consequences.
>
> The judge reminded him that only three parcels
> were immediately at issue, and observed, "if there
> are endangered species there, the impact on them
> is catastrophic."
>
> The parcels cover about 300 acres near the
> Mattole River and Bear Creek. The state
> Department of Forestry has approved the
> company's logging plans, despite complaints by
> some local residents that soil loosened by logging
> has muddied the waters near their homes, raised
> the stream bed and caused some of their land to
> be washed away.
>
> Gaffney said experts from the environmental
> groups have found coho salmon in the streams.
>
> Washburn said Pacific Lumber experts, including
> one this week, have found no coho, and state Fish
> and Game Department scientists have not found
> the endangered fish there for years.
>
> The legal dispute involved the effect of the filing
> of the habitat conservation plan. Gaffney argued
> that under federal law, the consultation required
> among federal agencies on the plan prohibits
> logging that could harm protected species while
> the plan is under consideration.
>
> Washburn said only informal consultation is
> involved and argued that logging could not be
> halted without proof that protected species
> actually were being killed.
>
> Patel agreed with Gaffney, saying the law's
> protections go into effect during any consultation
> on a habitat plan, whether formal or informal.
>
> "The salmon aren't going to know, when trees are
> being harvested, whether formal or informal
> consultation is going on," the judge said. "The
> damage is being done."
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> 1998 The Press Democrat
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David M. Walsh
P.O. Box 903
Redway, CA 95560
Office and Fax(707) 923-3015
Home (707) 986-1644



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