Timbered Rock fire salvage hit with legal roadblock

Two timber salvage sales planned for U.S. Bureau of Land Management forestland burned by the 2002 Timbered Rock fire, which sold on Monday, were challenged by a lawsuit filed Friday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Portland.

The lawsuit was filed by the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center of Ashland and the Pacific Environmental Advocacy Center and Cascade Resource Advocacy Group, both of Portland.

"These timber sales violate the most basic environmental protections on the books," said Susan Jane Brown, an attorney representing PEAC. "The BLM hopes to log big trees in a late- successional (old-growth) reserve, log near riparian areas and punch logging roads into watershed that serves as an important salmon fishery. The agency is creating a perfect storm of forest destruction."

George Sexton, conservation director for KSWC, said the groups had hoped to avoid a lawsuit by discussing their concerns with the agency.

"It was like talking to a brick wall," he said. "We intend to do everything we can to stop this reserve from getting logged."

It’s unknown what the impact of the lawsuit will have on the future of the sales. Agency officials weren’t available late Friday afternoon.

However, they have said the salvage operations are consistent with both the 1994 Northwest Forest Plan and the district’s resource management plan.

The Timbered Rock fire burned some 27,000 acres in the Elk Creek watershed, of which about 12,000 acres are in the BLM’s Medford District.

The Smoked Gobbler sale, which includes 6.8 million board feet of timber, sold for the appraised price of $302,000 to Timber Products Co.

The Glendale-based Swanson Group was the high bidder for the Flaming Rock sale, which contains 10.2 million board feet of timber. It sold for the appraised price of $964,000.