(CN) – The 9th Circuit rejected environmentalists’ bid to block a logging and road-building project in the Tongass National Forest and Prince of Wales Island, saying the groups had a “very low likelihood of success” in proving that the project would harm protected species.
The federal appeals court in Seattle upheld a judge’s refusal to halt the Logjam Timber Sales Project, which allows the logging of 3,422 acres and the construction of 22 miles of new roads, 5 miles of which are permanent.
The Tongass Conservation Society, Greenpeace and Cascadia Wildlands claimed the Forest Service failed to take a “hard look” at how the project would hurt the aquatic environment, the Alexander Archipelago wolves and the Sitka black-tailed deer of southeast Alaska.
A federal judge ruled that the agency had done all it needed to do in evaluating the impacts of the project, particularly in light of the already degraded conditions of the area. The judge also ruled that the groups were not likely to succeed on their claims that the agency had violated local and federal environmental protection laws.
On appeal, a three-judge panel affirmed the judge’s ruling that the groups had a “very low likelihood of success on the merits.”
“[E]ven assuming the district court was correct in concluding that the balance of hardships and the public interest tipped in (the environmentalists’) favor,” the 9th Circuit wrote, the district court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to halt the project.