BLM told to cut more timber delays its sale

Industry group files motion to force agency's hand

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MEDFORD, Ore. — The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has postponed three timber sales, saying that it needs time to consider a federal court decision that ordered it to sell more timber in Southern Oregon. And a timber industry group has filed an emergency motion to order the agency to go through with the sales, the Medford Mail Tribune reported Thursday.

Last month, U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon in Washington, D.C., ruled that the BLM couldn't use a computer model to estimate how many threatened spotted owls are in a timber area. The agency hadn't met requirements for public comment before introducing the computer model, the judge said. He also said the agency hadn't met its goals for logging in the Medford and Roseburg districts.

The bureau said it needed time to consider how to deal with the decision, and called off sales in the Medford, Roseburg and Eugene districts.

"The decision … to refuse to sell these timber sales is basically a slap in the face," said Scott Horngren, a lawyer for the Portland-based American Forest Resource Council, one of the plaintiffs.

George Sexton of the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, a watchdog group in Ashland, called it "sad and ironic" that one of the delayed sales was in the Josephine County community of Williams. Thinning is aimed at reducing wildfire dangers, but a wildfire recently burned about 500 acres in the area this past week.