- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 9, 2016

SALEM, Ore. (AP) - The federal government is already facing two lawsuits over its plan to manage about 2.5 million acres of land in western Oregon that would increase the potential timber harvest by an estimated 37 percent.

The Statesman Journal reports (https://stjr.nl/2baidqt ) the American Forest Resource Council and Earth Justice have both filed suits against the Bureau of Land Management since the plan was enacted Friday.

The agency spent years working to update the Northwest Forest Plan, trying to strike a balance between the interests of the timber industry and environmentalists. The original plan developed in the mid-1990s failed to deliver promised yields of timber, in part because of federal laws to protect species like salmon and the northern spotted owl.

BLM spokeswoman Sarah Levy said the agency does not comment on pending litigation, but says the agency’s analysis showed it could sustainably harvest 278 million board feet of timber a year and still meet its legal obligations under the Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act.

One board foot of lumber is a foot wide, a foot long and an inch thick. It takes 10,000 board feet to build a roughly 1,800-square-foot house.

The American Forest Resource Council, which represents about 60 landowners and wood manufacturers, contends the logging levels laid out in the plan are still too low.

Besides the suit, the council wrote a letter to Oregon lawmakers calling the plan “flawed” and said it would threaten the “fiscal solvency and public services of Oregon’s rural counties.” It mentions potential damage to the lumber industry as well.

Earth Justice, an environmental group based in Washington, D.C., followed closely behind with its own lawsuit on Monday.

“We don’t think this plan is successful. Their main focus is harvesting more timber,” said Todd True, an attorney with the organization.

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Information from: Statesman Journal, https://www.statesmanjournal.com

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