NRDC Wins Appeal in Lawsuit Against Tongass Timber Scheme

SAN FRANCISCO (August 5, 2005) -- The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled today that a U.S. Forest Service plan for logging in the Tongass National Forest in Alaska is illegal. The court said the government erred by doubling the projected market demand for timber from the forest, adding that the government should have considered less destructive alternatives to logging trees in roadless areas.

Under federal law the agency is required to adopt a logging plan that provides a supply of timber that meets market demand, while maintaining protections for fish and wildlife.

The following statement is by NRDC senior attorney Niel Lawrence:

"The Forest Service is pursuing an aggressive logging program in Alaska's virgin rainforest with no regard for the destructive effects on one of America's most unique wildlands. In its ruling, the court confirms that the agency broke the law by opening up the Tongass based on a vast overestimate of market demand for timber from the forest.

"The ruling means the federal government cannot give away public wildlands based on a fiction about the demand for wood and by ignoring the impacts on wildlife. It is going to make it harder for the agency to persuade an already skeptical Congress to continue taxpayer subsidies for Tongass roadbuilding."

The case is Natural Resources Defense Council v. United States Forest Service and is available online here.