(CN) – The 7th Circuit tossed a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Forest Service’s environmental assessment of a logging project in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in northern Wisconsin.
The agency had approved logging and road-building on 8,875 acres of public land near Clam Lake in Bayfield County, a project dubbed the “Twentymile” timber sale.
Habitat Education Center, a Madison-based nonprofit, claimed the Forest Service backed the proposal without considering the cumulative environmental effects of another proposed logging plan, known as the “Twin Ghost” project.
Writing for the three-judge panel, Judge Joel Flaum said the Twin Ghost project was “too nebulous to be discussed in any meaningful way” when the agency prepared its environmental analysis of the Twentymile timber sale.
The Chicago-based appeals panel upheld a lower court’s ruling for the agency, agreeing that the Twin Ghost project was not “reasonably foreseeable” when the environmental report was published.
The 7th Circuit urged the Forest Service to more fully disclose all relevant logging projects in future reports, but gave the agency the green light to continue logging.
Because the 1.5 million-acre Chequamegon-Nicolet Forest was restored in the 1920s, most of the trees are the same age. The Forest Service says logging helps diversify tree ages.