For now, timber sales stop to save bull trout.
A federal judge has temporarily halted four timber sales on the Willamette National Forest that environmental groups say would spoil habitat for the bull trout, a threatened fish under the Endangered Species Act.
U.S. District Judge James Redden in Portland issued a temporary restraining order Monday against the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, which released a biological opinion in May concluding that the proposed logging and associated road building would not jeopardize the bull trout.
Redden is scheduled to decide Aug. 8 whether to issue an injunction stopping the sales until he rules on the lawsuit filed by Eugene-based Cascadia Wildlands Project, Oregon Natural Resources Council and three other groups.
Jenny Valdivia, a spokeswoman with the Fish & Wildlife Service's regional office in Portland, said Wednesday the agency had just received the judge's order. "We're looking at it," Valdivia said.
Environmentalists argue that construction of logging roads and the harvest of 200-year-old trees in the Middle Fork Ranger District would cause erosion that fouls streams to the detriment of bull trout in the upper reaches of the Middle Fork of the Willamette River.
The four timber sales - Happy Bird, Tumbler, Staley and Upper Liz - total more than 20 million board feet near Staley and Tumblebug creeks, both tributaries of the Middle Fork, about 20 miles southeast of Oakridge.
Bull trout, a freshwater fish and member of the salmon family, have disappeared from much of its historic range. In Western Oregon, the fish is found in portions of the Upper McKenzie River and in the Middle Fork, where biologists have been working earnestly for five years to reintroduce the species.
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|Publication:||The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)|
|Date:||Aug 1, 2002|
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