Groups seek emergency stop to Selway logging operation

Citing imminent and irreparable harm to two of America’s original Wild and Scenic Rivers, two environmental groups yesterday filed for an emergency preliminary injunction to stop a Selway River logging operation.

The injunction request was filed by public interest law firm Advocates for the West on behalf of Boise-based Idaho Rivers United and Moscow-based Friends of the Clearwater.

The injunction request charges the U.S. Forest Service with infractions of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, National Forest Management Act, Endangered Species Act and National Environmental Policy Act. It seeks to protect the Wild and Scenic River corridor by stopping logging of 34 million board feet of timber on more than 2,000 acres of National Forest Land.

“Contrary to the Forest Service’s assertions, this huge clear cutting proposal is irresponsible and poses serious risk to water quality and endangered fish habitat,” said Friends of the Clearwater Executive Director Gary Macfarlane. “Moreover, the Forest Service’s Wild and Scenic management plan, which is grossly outdated and in dire need of revision, expressly prohibits commercial logging.”

Just last week, on March 30, a federal judge ruled in favor of IRU and private homeowners along the Selway River in a separate-but-related case.

According to Advocates for the West Executive Director Laird Lucas, lead attorney in both cases, “the Forest Service is guilty of systematically breaching its legal duties to protect the Selway and Middle Fork Clearwater Wild and Scenic Rivers.”

“Just last week the District of Idaho federal court confirmed the importance of holding the Forest Service to its statutory mandates, and now we are asking the court to do the same thing:  put a halt to massive clearcutting that the Forest Service is about to launch that will mar the lower Selway River for generations, if allowed to proceed,” Lucas continued.

IRU Conservation Director Kevin Lewis lamented that the Forest Service hasn’t been better at protecting Wild and Scenic Rivers in the Clearwater River basin.

“The Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest has a developing track record of ignoring Wild and Scenic River values in an area where taxpayers have spent millions on scenic easements and where the rivers and nearby public lands were protected on behalf of all Americans,” Lewis said. “We’d prefer the forest be proactive, not reactive following court decisions.”

Lewis said an injunction is extremely appropriate in this case to prevent irreparable impacts to the scenic, aesthetic and recreational values of the Selway and Middle Fork Clearwater Wild and Scenic Rivers. 

“These are some of the finest river jewels in our nation, and Congress recognized that when it protected them,” Lewis said. 

  • Click here to download a copy of yesterday's preliminary injunction filing.