A second coalition of conservation groups that opposes the Big Thorne Timber Sale on Prince of Wales Island has filed its own appeal and motion for an injunction following a U.S. District Court ruling against them.
Last Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Beistline granted summary judgment in favor of the U.S. Forest Service and other defendants, and rejected all the arguments brought forward by environmental groups. The court had consolidated cases filed by two different sets of plaintiffs, and each set is appealing separately.
The first set is represented by EarthJustice, and includes the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, Alaska Wilderness League, National Audubon Society, Natural Resources Defense Council and Sierra Club. That group announced its appeal on Thursday.
The second set, represented by Crag Law Center, includes Cascadia Wildlands, Center for Biological Diversity, the Greater Southeast Alaska Conservation Community, Greenpeace and The Boat Company. That group announced its appeal on Friday.
The lawsuits were filed last summer after the Forest Service made a final decision to move forward with the timber sale on Prince of Wales Island, which includes about 6,000 acres of old-growth rainforest. Environmentalists say that is critical habitat for deer and wolves. The groups argue that the Forest Service didn’t adequately consider the impact on wolves before approving the sale.
Forest Service officials say it’s critical to have some old-growth harvest to keep the remaining mills alive while the Forest Service transitions to a second-growth timber model.
In addition to the U.S. Forest Service, the defendants include the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Alaska Regional Forester Beth Pendleton and Tongass National Forest Supervisor Forrest Cole.
The State of Alaska, Alaska Forest Association, Cities of Craig and Ketchikan and Viking Lumber signed on as friends of the court, on the side of the defendants.