Eight conservation groups filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service in federal district court last week over the controversial sale of thousands of acres of trees on Prince of Wales Island.
In March, the Forest Service signed off on the final environmental review for what could be the largest logging operation in more than a decade in a national forest.
But the agency has maintained the project is intended for more than just timber, saying it will fulfill a variety of objectives, like stream restorations and the construction of new hiking trails and public use cabins.
The plaintiffs say that the Forest Service hasn’t provided a detailed map of the areas that could be logged and therefore can’t adequately assess the environmental impact of the project for the public to weigh in.
Tom Waldo, an attorney at Earthjustice, says the project shouldn’t be allowed to move forward.
“This is a brazen attempt by the Forest Service to rewrite the rules for timber sales,” Waldo said. “And it comes at the expense of a vast amount of habitat on Prince of Wales Island, that’s important for wildlife and for people and communities.”
Historically, large-scale industrial logging has taken place on the island. It’s where Alaska’s last mid-sized sawmill resides.
The Forest Service is expected to offer a timber sale in the area this summer.
A page on the agency’s website with more details about the project appeared to be down Tuesday. But the page has since been restored.
This story has been updated as new information has become available.
Alaska has a lot going on right now.
Never miss the important parts with insightful (and entertaining) news from The Signal, the best weekly Alaska news email.
- An email from Alaska's former first lady sheds new light on the actions that drove Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott from office, suggesting he may have invited a woman into his room, newly released emails show.
- A new Alaska group hopes to overhaul the state's oil and gas tax credit system through a ballot initiative called the Fair Share Act.
- Alaska regulators are considering whether the state should continue replenishing a rural telephone and internet service fund or shut it down.
- Hunters said the proposed Ambler Road would be closed to the public, while conservationists said it would hurt caribou and other wildlife needed by area villages.