Echo Trail Area Forest Management Project

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Echo Trail Area Forest Management Project

Postby PaddlerJimmy » Sun Apr 08, 2007 7:37 pm

Friends Appeals Echo Trail Project
Appeal challenges Forest Service interpretation of “protected roadless areas”

MINNEAPOLIS, MN—Last week, Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness joined The Sierra Club North Star Chapter (Lead Appellant), Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness, Defenders of Wildlife, The Wilderness Society, and Audubon Minnesota in filing an administrative appeal with the USDA Forest Service formally objecting to the Agency’s January 29, 2007 decision to adopt the Echo Trail Area Forest Management Project Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS).

The Echo Trail Area Forest Management Project (the Project) area borders the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) on the north and south sides of the Echo Trail and completely surrounds the Trout Lake Unit of the wilderness. Some timber stands identified in the Project could be cut right to the wilderness boundary.
Objecting primarily to the Project’s potential impact on the BWCAW and surrounding inventoried roadless areas, the appeal claims: The Forest Service failed to consider direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of the Project on the BWCAW; The Forest Service failed to preserve wilderness character pursuant to section 4(b) of the Wilderness Act of 1964; and the Project violates the 2001 Roadless Rule by allowing temporary roads and timber harvest in inventoried roadless areas (IRAs).

• The courts have previously addressed the impacts of forest management projects on wilderness areas. Betsy Schmiesing, Vice Chair of the Board and Policy Chair, Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, stated: “The agency is not free to ignore impacts on wilderness areas, even if those impacts flow from actions outside the wilderness.” Schmiesing notes that in the lawsuit against the Forest Service’s Big Grass timber sale in 2005, the court determined that the agency has a duty to take into account impacts such as illegal entry into the BWCAW on logging roads leading right to the wilderness edge, which can also serve as passageways for invasive species. “And the agency also has a duty to take into account the audible and visible effects inside the wilderness caused by activity outside.”

• “Preservation of wilderness character is clearly defined in the Wilderness Act,” says Lois Norrgard, Co-Chair, Forest Committee, Sierra Club North Star Chapter. “Section 4(b) charges the Forest Service with preserving wilderness character, and nowhere does the language provide an exception for management activities undertaken just outside a wilderness boundary.”

• IRAs just outside the wilderness would be impacted by the Project. “We interpret the 2001 Roadless Rule to protect roadless areas inventoried since 2001,” says Brad Sagen, Board Chair, Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness. The Rule defines IRAs as areas identified in a set of IRA maps in the 2001 Roadless Rule Environmental Impact Statement and including ‘any subsequent update or revision of those maps.’ Post 2001 IRAs—Picket Lake, Urho Creek, Agassa Lake and Big Lake—would be impacted by clearcuts, partial cuts, and temporary roads. In the Project’s FEIS, the Forest Service acknowledges these areas are IRAs but concludes they are not protected by the Rule because they are not listed on the 2001 official map.

“That’s like the Forest Service acknowledging your house exists but not protecting it from a forest fire because it is not on an official map! We define protected roadless areas as roadless areas acknowledged by the Forest Service, map or no map,” Sagen says.

The appellants have also made claims regarding effects on lynx, the need for additional Management Indicator Species (MIS) and the Forest Service’s improper substitution of Management Indicator Habitats for MIS, forest composition objectives, zone and forest-wide spatial objectives and requirements for public involvement in the monitoring program.

Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness is a non-profit organization founded in 1976. Our mission is to protect, preserve and restore the wilderness character of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and the Quetico-Superior ecosystem. The organization has nearly 4,000 members and subscribers nationwide.

For Immediate Release
March 28, 2007 Contact:
Lois Norrgard, Sierra Club, 952-881-7282
Betsy Schmiesing, Friends, 612-766-8307
Brad Sagen, NMW, 218-365-6461
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Environmental groups file suit over logging near BWCA

Postby PaddlerJimmy » Sun Jul 15, 2007 10:49 am

Environmental groups file suit over logging near BWCA
The lawsuit claims the U.S. Forest Service's plan to cut on about 12,000 acres, much of it within a corridor between two sections of wilderness, is a risk to wildlife and clean water.

By Tom Meersman, Star Tribune

Last update: July 03, 2007 – 9:11 PM

The Northstar Chapter of the Sierra Club and four other environmental and conservation groups have sued the U.S. Forest Service on a proposal to log 18 square miles near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court on Monday, claims that the agency is risking clean water, wildlife and the special qualities of wilderness and that the logging may affect recovery of the threatened lynx in Superior National Forest.

"We're really concerned primarily about the wilderness character, and the logging that'll be happening within close proximity to the wilderness is going to affect it in a negative way," said Lois Norrgard, forest campaign co-chairwoman for the Sierra Club.

The proposal, known as the Echo Trail project, would include clearcuts, partial cuts and thinning of trees on about 12,000 acres, much of it within a corridor between two large sections of wilderness. Some of the timber would be harvested to the wilderness boundary, according to the lawsuit, which argues that the noise of machinery would disrupt the solitude of campers and the habitat for wildlife.

Kris Reichenbach, spokeswoman for Superior National Forest, said the agency hasn't had time to review the lawsuit and has no comment about its claims. "We've worked hard with environmentalists to try to address their concerns," she said. "But in terms of the lawsuit itself, that's going to have to play out, and it's not something that we really can discuss."

Wayne Brandt, executive vice president of the Minnesota Timber Producers Association, said the suit is "misguided" and stands little chance of success because courts have rejected similar claims.

"The wilderness is a wilderness," Brandt said. "There's a line around it, and outside of that wilderness the law says that the forest is to be managed for multiple benefits." Brandt said nonwilderness areas of national forests should be available for all types of recreation including motorized uses, as well as timber harvesting and other economic purposes. "There's no law that provides for buffers around wilderness areas, nor should there be," he said.

Norrgard disagrees and said federal law requires agencies to preserve and protect wilderness character, even if that limits or prohibits some activities just outside its border. Norrgard said the Echo Trail project will allow 74 miles of temporary roads, including 11 of them within a half-mile of the Boundary Waters. Roads have been shown to disrupt habitat for species such as lynx, she said, and make it easier for off-road drivers to trespass in the wilderness.

The lawsuit requests that a judge prohibit timber sales in the project area until the U.S. Forest Service completes a new environmental study that takes a broader view of preserving the wilderness.

The other groups in the suit include Defenders of Wildlife, Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness and the Wilderness Society.
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Postby jackfish69 » Wed Jan 23, 2008 2:18 pm

Yea that is very smart of the Friends of the Boundary Waters... Lets not clean it up and then when a fire ignites it will all burn down... Way to be a friend to the wilderness people... You are doing a great job... Not!!!
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