The Trump administration’s plan to allow logging in more than 40,000 acres of an Alaskan national forest was put on hold by a federal judge Monday.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska issued a preliminary injunction blocking the development of 42,500 acres of the Tongass National Forest for logging.
The court said: “Plaintiffs have demonstrated that they are very likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary injunctive relief.”
The rulings come the day before the Trump administration would have begun reviewing logging bids and offering contracts to clear out parts of the nation’s largest temperate rainforest.
The U.S. Forest Service is now barred from allowing the “cutting of trees, road construction, or other ground-disturbing activities” in effected areas temporarily, blocking them from selling off the first 1,156 acres of the forest on Sept. 24.
“Based on the foregoing, Plaintiffs have established that they will suffer irreparable harm if the harvest — particularly of old-growth trees — authorized by the Twin Mountain Timber Sale occurs,” the court said.
The USFS announced the opening of 2.2 million acres of forest for development in March, allowing roughly 40,000 to go toward logging while the rest would be allocated for road construction.
Environmental groups filed lawsuits to block the plans in May.