ROSEBURG, Ore. (AP) — The federal government has proposed logging on Southern Oregon forests swept by wildfire last year, and environmental groups have gone to court to block the plans, alleging 24 northern spotted owls are at risk.
The timber would come from the area of one of the biggest fires of 2013. A dry lightning storm on July 26 ignited fires that eventually burned across more than 75 square miles of private and federal timberlands.
Many private landowners started salvage logging immediately after the fires were contained in September. The federal government held public meetings and did environmental assessments before holding a timber sale in July. The Fish and Wildlife Service authorized the Bureau of Land Management to salvage trees on about 2 square miles.
The suit says the FWS approved the “incidental take” of spotted owls at seven sites they’re known to inhabit — in contradiction to the agency’s owl recovery plan, which recommends retaining owl habitat, including habitat burned in wildfires. “Traditionally, salvage logging is the worst of the worst as far as ecologically affecting the forest,” said Nick Cady, legal director of Cascadia Wildlands.