OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) – The Karuk Tribe and three environmental groups challenged a logging project in Northern California’s Six Rivers National Forest. The Karuks claim the U.S. Forest Service blew off a conflict-resolution agreement several years in the making by allowing logging of large-diameter trees in the Orleans Community Fuels Reduction and Forest Health Project.
The 2,700-acre project zone includes cultural areas and a ceremonial district important to the Karuk Tribe. The Karuk, which means “upstream people,” have about 3,500 enrolled members. Their sacred sites, gathering zones, hunting and fishing spots, and prehistoric areas are used to this day, the tribe says.
The forest provides habitat for important species, including the northern spotted owl and bald eagle, as well as hosting endemic plants, the plaintiffs say.
The groups say old-growth logging and fire suppression has long damaged the landscape, causing dense stands of young trees to pose a fire hazard.
But the project’s alleged intention – to reduce fire hazards around the community of Orleans – is belied by its plan to log large, fire-resistant trees far away from human settlement, the lawsuit claims.
Logging could start this month.
The Forest Service failed to consider a collaborative partnership’s recommendations supposedly adopted in a 2008 resolution agreement, according to the complaint. It adds that the project’s environmental impact statement is inadequate, and that archeological surveys failed to consult with other agencies over important cultural resources.
The plaintiffs – the Karuk Tribe, the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, the Environmental Protection Information Center, and the Klamath Forest Alliance – are represented by Marianne Dugan of Eugene, Ore., and Sharon Duggan of Oakland, Calif. They want the logging project enjoined.