Environmentalists Drop Lawsuit Over Old Trees
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) _ Environmentalists have given up their fight to save a stand of centuries- old Douglas fir trees and have criticized the U.S. Forest Service and the logging company that has already begun cutting them down.
In a motion to dismiss their lawsuit, the environmental groups said ″the oldest and most prized trees ... have already been selectively felled″ in a 56-acre tract in the Willamette National Forest, where Willamette Industries Inc. began logging Monday.
The National Wildlife Federation, the Oregon Natural Resources Council, the Middle Santiam Wilderness Committee and Corvallis resident Pat Loveland Wednesday sued the Forest Service and logging company. They alleged the service failed to meet legal requirements in assessing the timber sale.
Andy Kerr, an associate director of the council, charged Forest Service officials had misled conservationists, who began negotiating with the agency last fall to save the tract.
The Forest Service was informed March 27 that Willamette Industries would not accept a land swap and would begin logging Monday, Kerr said. The conservation groups said they didn’t know until Sunday.
Lane County Commissioner Jerry Rust called for a public boycott of Willamette Industries’ products including lumber, writing paper, business forms and bags. He urged the firing of ″responsible parties″ in the Forest Service and called for a letter-writing campaign to ask Congress to censure the agency.
A Willamette National Forest spokesman defended the Service.
″In no way did we purposely mislead these folks,″ Jerry Mason said. ″They assumed because we got a negative reply Thursday that that was the end of our pursuing this conflict.″
Service officials hoped to reach a compromise at a meeting Sunday, Mason said.
Cathy Baldwin, spokeswoman for Willamette Industries, said the Portland- based company had no comment on the proposed boycott.
She said the company filed its required 10-day public notice before logging. She said the trees were not prime specimens.
The environmental groups estimated the trees were 800 to 900 years old. A Forest Service ecologist said they probably were the state’s largest over 700 years old.