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Environmentalists win timber battle


MEDFORD (AP) - A federal magistrate has ruled in favor of four environmental groups that sued to block a timber sale near the Wild and Scenic section of the Rogue River.

The summary finding by U.S. District Magistrate John P. Cooney in Medford asks the Bureau or Land Management to reconsider the Pickett Snake sale.

He said the sale - completed in 2002 but held up in the courts since - violates the agency's Medford District resources management plan, as well as federal environmental law.

U.S. District Court Judge Michael Hogan in Eugene must approve the decision.

The plaintiffs and the BLM have until Jan. 29 to file objections.

Four environmental groups filed the lawsuit a year ago, arguing that logging would harm delicate species of lily and mar views from the Wild and Scenic section of the Rogue River.

Logging is also planned around a large population of Gentners fritillary, a bulbous plant that is on the endangered species list.

"If Judge Hogan supports the recommendations as we expect him to, the BLM will have to do a new... analysis and change the prescription for the sale," said Brenna Bell, staff attorney for the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, one of the four plaintiffs.

"We hope they just drop the sale altogether," she said.

"Our hope is that the BLM, after this lawsuit, will realize that moving forward with old-growth timber sales is a road to nowhere."

The BLM is reviewing the case, said Abby Jossie, field manager for the Grants Pass Resource Area. Along with logging, the project also includes clearing brush and other measures to imitate healthy changes fires make to forestland, she said.

Swanson-Superior Lumber Co. of Glendale bought the sale at a 2002 auction for $837,894.


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