3 Feb 2010, 9:13pm
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USFS cuts $2 million from Ashland project

Forest Service redirects the money away from thinning work after a suit was filed

By VICKIE ALDOUS, Medford Mail Tribune, February 03, 2010 [here]

ASHLAND — The U.S. Forest Service pulled $2 million in funding from an Ashland watershed thinning project one week after Ashland City Councilman Eric Navickas and former resident Jay Lininger filed a lawsuit challenging parts of the project.

Navickas and Lininger filed the lawsuit on Jan. 15 in U.S. District Court in Medford. In the complaint, they said the 7,600-acre thinning and prescribed burning project would harm riparian areas, cause erosion, hurt water quality, degrade Pacific fisher and northern spotted owl habitat and cut into an old-growth forest reserve and a roadless area.

The Forest Service previously had received $6 million in federal economic stimulus funding to help pay for the Ashland Forest Resiliency Project, which could take up to 10 years to carry out, said Paul Galloway, acting public affairs officer for the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

The total cost of the project is not yet known, he said.

On Jan. 21, $2 million of the $6 million was redirected back to the Forest Service to be redistributed to other projects, Galloway said.

“There was the lawsuit and the risk associated with that of not being able to complete the project due to the litigation,” he said.

Galloway said federal stimulus funding is intended to go to projects that can produce jobs as soon as possible.

Nationally, the Forest Service redirected $10.7 million from various projects that had previously been awarded stimulus funding because of risks that those projects might not move forward quickly, Galloway said.

The $2 million redirected from the Ashland watershed thinning project was the only funding that was redirected from the Forest Service region that covers Oregon and Washington, Galloway said.

He said the Forest Service still intends to complete the Ashland thinning project within 10 years.

“We still have over $4 million in stimulus dollars that remain committed to implementing the Ashland Forest Resiliency Project,” Galloway said.

Navickas and Lininger filed the lawsuit as private citizens, not in their respective roles as councilman and ecologist for the Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity.
… [more]

Note 1: see also City leaders urge thinning of watershed despite lawsuit threats [here]

Note 2: Ashland Forest Resiliency Project has been in planning for years. The Ashland Watershed provides the domestic water supply for the City of Ashland. It is widely recognized that fuel accumulations present high potential for large-scale, high severity wildland fire that could significantly interrupt the supply of clean water and destroy old-growth forest ecosystems. The Project’s purpose is “to protect Values At Risk, reduce hazardous fuels, reduce crown fire potential, and obtain conditions that are more resilient to wildland fires.”

Extensive hearings have been held. Citizen groups have fully vetted the plan, and modifications have been adopted to satisfy all reasonable concerns. Collaborative partners include the City of Ashland and the Nature Conservancy. None of the usual eco-litigious groups, of which there are many in SW Oregon, oppose the plan.

Eric Navickas has sued the USFS before. He is a self-described “environmental activist” with a history of disrupting public meetings. He also has a history of violent protest representing a group called Ashland Creek First!. He opposes forest restoration for fire resiliency and has supported homeless camps in the Ashland watershed despite the obvious fire risk and hazard. The list of his radical pro-holocaust anti-forest activities goes on and on. Eric Navickas is a real piece of work.

Jay Lininger lives in Arizona. He also has a long history of suing the USFS, although the Center for Biological Diversity is not a party to this lawsuit. Between 2000 and 2009, Center for Biological Diversity filed at least 409 lawsuits in the federal district courts and at least 165 appeals in the federal appellate courts.

The outcome of the delay, and the termination of the Ashland Forest Resiliency Project if the appellants are successful, could be the destruction of the Ashland Watershed by catastrophic fire. The Ashland Watershed is immediately southwest of the city, so wildfire could also do serious damage to homes and threaten lives.

21 May 2010, 5:27pm
by jay lininger

Did Mike Dubrasich write this? You could have picked up the phone before posting such bombastic and inaccurate rhetoric.

Navickas and I do not seek to stop the AFR project. The lawsuit is narrowly targeted to uphold collaborative agreements in the Community Wildfire Protection Plan that the Forest Service disregarded. We do not seek an injunction, ensuring that ecologically sensitive hazard reduction will move forward in a timely way.

As designed, AFR may remove tens of thousands of mature fire-resistant trees, cut old-growth trees from 1,000 of an inventoried roadless area, and unnecessarily degrade more than 1,200 acres of critical recovery habitat for northern spotted owl. More, there is no clear plan to restore fire to the watershed. The approach in this plan is to log first and consider restoration later.

Fortunately, none of the potentially destructive work described above will occur in the first two years. Again, there will be no delay or blockage of fire hazard reduction consistent with community agreements reached through collaboration.



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