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E-M:/ PRESS RELEASE: Groups File Suit to Halt Timber Sales in Ottawa National Forest

Enviro-Mich message from Doug Cornett <drcornet@up.net>


>From the offices of Heartwood and Northwoods Wilderness Recovery

Jan. 28, 2000

For immediate release

Groups File Suit to Halt Timber Sales - Coaltion Fights to Stop Three
Timber Sales Threatening Environmentally Sensitive Areas in the Ottawa
National Forest

Marquette, MI--Stating their deep concern for the future of environmentally 
sensitive habitat and species, two forest protection organizations today 
announced they have gone to court to halt three timber sales in Michigan's 
Ottawa National Forest.  Northwoods Wilderness Recovery (NWR), a local 
Michigan group, and Heartwood, a coalition of environmental organizations 
based in Bloomington, Indiana, filed the lawsuit on January 24, 2000, in the 
U.S. Western District Court in Grand Rapids.

The suit challenges three timber sales in Michigan's Ottawa National
Forest, all approved by the U.S. Forest Service.  The sales, named Rolling
Thunder, Haymeadow, and West 33, are all located in environmentally sensitive 
areas, and threaten the habitat of the endangered and rare Canada Lynx, 
Northern Goshawk and American Bittern.  Soil erosion and stream
sedimentation, from new roads and logging, also threaten water quality 
of the Ontonagon and Paint Rivers.

The Rolling Thunder sale borders Sylvania Wilderness, an 18,000 acre 
protected tract of virgin forest.  The Haymeadow and West 33 sales will cut 
forests inside the Paint River corridor, which was designated by Congress
as a Wild and Scenic River in 1992.

In their complaint, NWR and Heartwood contend that the Ottawa is violating 
the National Forest Management Act (NFMA) and the National Environmental 
Policy Act (NEPA) by approving these sales.

"The Ottawa has doubled the acreage of logging in northern hardwoods. This is 
a clear violation of the Ottawa's own management plan," said Doug Cornett of 
NWR.  "What's the point of setting aside wild and sensitive areas, like 
Sylvania Wilderness, and then chipping away at it's edges?"

"They shouldn’t be logging next to the Sylvania Wilderness, or in the Paint
Wild and Scenic River corridor. These beautiful and sensitive areas should be 
protected from this kind of activity," said Mark Donham of Heartwood's Forest 
Watch program.

NWR and Heartwood also allege that the Ottawa did not consider a reasonable 
range of alternatives for managing the areas, and failed to do required
studies on wildlife before they log.

"Beyond costing the taxpayers of Michigan millions of dollars and causing 
catastrophic environmental damage, we find the name of this sale in poor
taste", said Murray Dailey, Executive Director of NWR.  "Rolling Thunder
was the mission name of the costly bombing of North Vietnam during the 
Vietnam War."  

The National Forest Protection and Restoration Act (H.R.1396), currently
enjoying 72 cosponsors in US Congress, would end the federal timber program
in our National Forests. Our National Forests supply less than 5% of our 
nation's lumber and paper needs, yet provides habitat and wilderness recovery
potential for many of our most endangered species.

"The National Forests were originally set up as reserves to protect the
nation's forests from industrial exploitation," said Dailey. "The federal 
timber program is a 100 year government and industry experiment which has 
failed and must end."

A response to the complaint is required within 60 days.

For More Information Contact:

Tom Buchele, Environmental Law and Policy Center

Mark Donham, Heartwood

Doug Cornett, Northwoods Wilderness Recovery

Northwoods Wilderness Recovery
P.O. Box 122
Marquette, MI 49855-0122

P.O. Box 1424
Bloomington, IN 47402-1424

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