U.S District Court Judge Ralph Beistline has granted a two-week injunction in the Big Thorne Timber Sale lawsuit.
Several lawsuits were filed last summer after the U.S. 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. But Forest Service officials say there must be some old-growth harvest to keep the remaining mills alive while the Forest Service transitions to a second-growth timber model.
On March 20th, Beistline granted summary judgment in favor of the 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, but each set is appealing separately to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The injunction granted on Tuesday provides time for the 9th Circuit to consider a stay on logging pending appeal, according to plaintiffs represented by Crag Law Center.
Those plaintiffs are Cascadia Wildlands, Center for Biological Diversity, the Greater Southeast Alaska Conservation Community, Greenpeace and The Boat Company.
Another set of plaintiffs are represented by EarthJustice. Those are the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, Alaska Wilderness League, National Audubon Society, Natural Resources Defense Council and Sierra Club.
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.