A coalition of conservation groups that seeks to stop the Big Thorne Timber Sale on Prince of Wales Island has filed an emergency motion for an injunction with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals pending resolution of two appeals filed this spring with that court.
A temporary injunction was granted in late March by Anchorage-based U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Beistline, but that order has expired.
The emergency motion was submitted to the 9th Circuit on April 3, with a request for a decision by this Friday.
Several lawsuits were filed last summer after the U.S. Forest Service made a final decision to move forward with the timber sale, 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 20, 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.
One of the plaintiffs is Center for Biological Diversity. In an email sent to APRN, the Alaska director for that group, Rebecca Noblin, says that, in order to grant the emergency injunction, the 9th Circuit would have to determine the appeals are likely to succeed.