18 Mar 2010, 10:51pm
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City won’t join suit on watershed - U.S. Forest Service had sought council’s support

By Vickie Aldous, The Ashland Daily Tidings, March 18, 2010 [here]

The Ashland City Council … decided on Tuesday not to join the U.S. Forest Service as a defendant in a lawsuit over thinning in the Ashland Watershed.

In January, Ashland City Councilor Eric Navickas and Arizona ecologist Jay Lininger, a former local resident, sued the Forest Service over plans to conduct thinning and prescribed burning on 7,600 acres to reduce wildfire risk. …

Note: Jay Lininger [here, here] works for the Center for Biological Diversity. He was formerly the executive director of Cascadia Wildlands Project in Eugene

An Ashland City Council majority had previously endorsed the Forest Service’s plan, which was developed after years of community input from city officials and others.

The City Council has also agreed to help the Forest Service carry out the plan, with further help from The Nature Conservancy and the Lomakatsi Restoration Project ecological repair company.

Because Navickas is a party in the lawsuit against the Forest Service, he was excluded Tuesday from the City Council’s discussion over whether to join the federal agency in the case.

Councilor Kate Jackson said the thinning project is essential to the health of the Ashland Watershed, but the city’s legal department doesn’t have expertise in the environmental laws that are at issue in the lawsuit.

“I’m not convinced our intervening will have much effect on the case,” she said.

Like Jackson, Councilor Russ Silbiger said he was conflicted about whether to join with the Forest Service on the case.

He said the City Council needs to take a strong stand in support of the thinning project. But taking part in the case would eat up the city legal department’s time and could prove costly if the Forest Service and city lost the case.

Navickas and Lininger are seeking payment of their attorneys’ fees if the Forest Service loses, as well as payment for any other damages the court deems appropriate. …

Instead of joining the Forest Service in the watershed thinning case, councilors Jackson, Silbiger and David Chapman voted to send a letter in support of the thinning project. The Forest Service could use the letter in the case. … [more]

See also:

USFS cuts $2 million from Ashland project [here]

City leaders urge thinning of watershed despite lawsuit threats [here]



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