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Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Ctr. v. Gerritsma

United States District Court, D. Oregon

August 21, 2013

KLAMATH SISKIYOU WILDLANDS CENTER; OREGON WILD; and CASCADIA WILDLANDS, Plaintiffs,
v.
JOHN GERRITSMA; UNITED STATES BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT, Defendants, ROUGH AND READY LUMBER, LLC; FARMER LOGGING; and GREG LILES LOGGING, Defendant-Intervenors

Page 1231

For Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, Oregon Wild, Cascadia Wildlands, Plaintiffs: Susan Jane M. Brown, LEAD ATTORNEY, Western Environmental Law Center, Portland, OR.

For John Gerritsma, Field Manager, Ashland Resource Areas, Medford District, in his official capacity, United States Bureau of Land Management an administrative agency of the United States Department of Interior, Defendants: Sean E. Martin, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Oregon, Portland, OR.

For Rough & Ready Lumber Company, an Oregon limited liability company, Farmer Logging, an Oregon corporation, Greg Liles Logging, an Oregon corporation, Intervenor Defendants: Scott W. Horngren, American Forest Resource Counsel, Portland, OR.

OPINION

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ORDER

OWEN M. PANNER, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

Plaintiffs claim that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Federal Land and Policy Management Act (FLPMA) in approving the Rio Climax Forest Management Project (the Project). The Project would allow logging on 857 acres in the BLM Medford District.

Based on the administrative record, I dismiss this action.

BACKGROUND

After completing a revised Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Project, defendant John Gerritsma, BLM field manager, concluded the Project was not a major federal action that would require an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

Plaintiffs acknowledge that the Project area has been " drastically degraded by human manipulation of the environment," but contend the area " still retains significant conservation values." Pls.' Reply at 1. The Project will be on land where timber harvest is the primary use. Much of the Project is on land subject to the Oregon & California Lands Act, 43 U.S.C. § 1181a. Such land is intended primarily " for timber production to be managed in conformity with the provision of sustained yield." O'Neal v. United States, 814 F.2d 1285, 1287 (9th Cir. 1987) (per curiam). The Project also includes " matrix" land, which has been designated by the Northwest Forest Plan as " 'unreserved areas in which timber harvest may go forward subject to environmental requirements.'" Or. Natural Res. Council Fund v. Brong, 492 F.3d 1120, 1126 (9th Cir. 2007) (quoting Seattle Audubon Soc'y v. Lyons, 871 F.Supp. 1291, 1305 (W.D. Wa. 1994), aff'd, 80 F.3d 1401 (9th Cir. 1996) (per curiam)).

The Project will allow logging on 857 acres, construction of 1.4 miles of new roads, and decommissioning of about 0.5 miles of roads. The Project will remove smaller trees while retaining the larger, healthier trees within a stand. The Project does not allow removal of old-growth trees, and will maintain at least 30-50% canopy cover in the harvested stands. BLM states the Project will ensure sustainable forest production by managing conifer forests to improve growth and vigor; provide timber products; reduce hazardous fuels on land in the " Wildland Urban

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Interface" ; and provide transportation access within the Project area for ...


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