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E-M:/ Categorical Exclusions Struck Down in Nat'l Forests



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Enviro-Mich message from Terry Lodge <tjlodge50@yahoo.com>
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--- Frank Ambrose <fambrose@bloomington.in.us> wrote:
> Date: Tue, 5 Oct 1999 20:22:05 -0500 (EST)
> From: Frank Ambrose <fambrose@bloomington.in.us>
> To: Undisclosed.recipients:;
> Subject: IMPORTANT: please use new version if
> possible, CE press release
>  (fwd)
> Reply-to: seac-region9@earthsystems.org
> 
> If you havent heard....
> This will protect several places in most all
> National Forests. The Hoosier
> probably does not have any of these sales, but the
> Huron-Manistee,
> Hiawatha, and Ottawa definitely have several sales
> each. It is just a
> matter of whether or not the operators have
> completed them yet.
>  
>
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> 
> 
> October 5, 1999
> 
> FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 			contacts: Andy Mahler,
> Heartwood, 812.723.2430							  	              Matt
> Kenna, Attorney, 970.385.6941										  Jim
> Bensman, Heartwood, 618.259.3642
> 
> FEDERAL JUDGE HALTS LOGGING ON NATIONAL FORESTS
> 
> Benton, IL -  A Federal District Court judge from
> Illinois issued an injunction on Friday, October 1,
> 1999, canceling all timber sales on National Forest
> lands where the US Forest Service used a loophole to
> avoid environmental review.
> This is the first time a federal judge has issued an
> injunction on the entire National Forest system. All
> Forest Service timber sales issued since September
> 16, 1998, under a provision called "Categorical
> Exclusion," were halted by the Court.
> The Forest Service routinely used their "Categorical
> Exclusion" regulations to avoid the full
> environmental analysis normally required by federal
> law. Timber sales of up to a million board feet were
> illegally authorized under this provision. The
> Forest Service divided large timber sales into many
> small ones in order to sidestep public scrutiny and
> continue their logging program. 
> Since the Forest Service used Categorical Exclusions
> not just locally, but nationwide, Federal District
> Court Judge Gilbert specifically ruled that "...any
> remedy ordered must also be national in scope." The
> decision continues, "...the Court believes that the
> continued application of this unlawful Categorical
> Exclusion does pose a potential danger both to the
> environment and to public health."
> This decision affects National Forests from Alaska
> to Florida. Heartwood estimates the decision by
> Judge Gilbert will halt logging on more than 110,000
> acres of National Forest land.
> "The judge's ruling confirms what we have been
> saying all along," said Andy Mahler, Director of
> Heartwood, a regional forest protection network.
> "The US Forest Service has engaged in a pattern of
> illegal activity designed to increase logging,
> regardless of environmental damage, public
> opposition, and applicable law.  These sales are
> just the tip of the iceberg.  The entire timber sale
> program is illegal and should be stopped."
> The decision states: "The Court cannot discover any
> meaningful analysis providing support for the
> [Forest Service's] conclusion that the Categorical
> Exclusion of timber harvests of this magnitude would
> not have cumulative effects on the environment."
> "The Forest Service seized an opportunity to
> increase timber cuts while avoiding environmental
> and public review," said Mahler. "They attempted to
> expand harvest volumes by rewriting the rules
> governing Categorical Exclusions." Judge Gilbert
> called it, "...a classic example of an arbitrary
> decision... especially in light of the overwhelming
> opposition from both federal and state sources as
> well as the general public."
> The lawsuit was brought by Heartwood, Jim Bensman,
> and Mark Donham .  Heartwood is an organization
> dedicated to the health and well-being of hardwood
> forests from Appalachia to the Ozarks and from the
> Great Lakes to the Deep South.
> #	#	#
> Editor's note: The legal reference is: Heartwood,
> Jim Bensman, & Mark Donham v. United States Forest
> Service, No. 98-CV-4289-JPG (S.D. IL September 28,
> 1999) slip op at 33. Copies of this decision are
> available through the Heartwood office,
> 812-337-8898, http://www.heartwood.org.
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
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