Timber Road Rage

Timber Road Rage

Chris Winter, of Crag Law Center, checks out logging- runoff impacts on the Tillamook State Forest.

A battle over the effects of logging and roads on salmon streams and drinking water is moving up to the Supreme Court, with sides disagreeing over just how perilous the problem — or a solution — is. I visited the Tillamook State Forest in Oregon — ground zero for logging runoff — this spring to look into the issue for High Country News.

My July 23, 2012 article, “Oregon ignores logging road runoff, to the peril of native fish,” looks at environmentalists’ concerns over runoff impacts from timber operations in the Pacific Northwest and beyond, and the claims behind their lawsuit.

The environmentalists believe state officials and logging companies, particularly in Oregon, can do better to protect salmon habitat and water quality. That includes meeting the terms of the US Clean Water Act, which has generally been sidestepped by timber operations. But opponents argue that tougher rules will punish the reeling forest-products industry, and they’ve tried to cast doubt on whether there’s even a severe problem. The Supreme Court is scheduled to weigh in on the matter in fall 2012.


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