Big Thorne Timber Sale Lawsuit Dismissed

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The Big Thorne Timber Sale lawsuit has been dismissed by a federal judge in Anchorage.

Alaska U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Beistline granted summary judgment on Friday in favor of the defendants, and rejected every argument brought forward by the plaintiffs.

The lawsuit isn’t necessarily over, however. The plaintiffs could appeal the decision to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and seek an injunction pending the outcome. The lawsuit was filed last summer shortly after the U.S. Forest Service made a final decision to move forward with the timber sale on Prince of Wales Island.

The proposed timber harvest would include about 6,000 acres of old-growth rainforest. Environmental organizations say that acreage is critical habitat for deer and wolf populations.
The Forest Service is moving away from old-growth logging, but the switch to second-growth will take time.

Federal officials and pro-logging groups say old-growth harvests will need to continue during that transition for mills to survive.

In his decision today, Beistline ruled that the plaintiffs failed to show that the Forest Service didn’t follow proper procedure before making its final decision.