- Associated Press - Thursday, May 26, 2016

LEWISTON, Idaho (AP) - The U.S. Forest Service has rescinded a decision approving a salvage logging project in northern Idaho after a federal judge halted the plan at the request of two environmental groups.

The Lewiston Tribune reports (https://bit.ly/1TGvE0S) that Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest Supervisor Cheryl Probert on Wednesday stopped the project so the agency could re-examine the analysis leading to its approval.

The project near the Selway and Middle Fork Clearwater rivers was intended to harvest 34 million board feet of timber scorched by a 2014 wildfire.

“We will be reassessing the viability of the project in light of the continued deterioration of the trees,” Probert said. “We just want to make sure any future action regarding that project is going to be consistent with the protection of the outstandingly remarkable values in the Wild and Scenic River corridor.”

Idaho Rivers United and Friends of the Clearwater sued, contending the logging violates the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

Earlier this month, U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Dale granted the groups an injunction. She ruled the Forest Service failed to do a supplemental study after 2015 wildfires burned near the planned logging from the 2014 fires, and violated other environmental laws by failing to look at other important aspects of the logging project.

Dale also noted that the Forest Service is decades past a statutory deadline to review a 1969 River Plan to make sure it conforms to 1986 amendments approved by Congress. She said that means the agency lacks the objective standards to effectively assess and protect wild and scenic values of the rivers.

Laird Lucas, an attorney with Advocates for the West representing the environmental groups, said it’s not clear if the case will continue to move forward.

“If they are really yanking the sale entirely, we probably don’t have to push ahead with the challenge because we have already won the injunction,” he said.

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Information from: Lewiston Tribune, https://www.lmtribune.com

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