A federal judge halted logging in an area of the Six Rivers National Forest Monday citing U.S. Forest Service for failing to ensure a logging company adhered to strict limits in areas sacred to the Karuk Tribe.
U.S. District Judge William Alsup ordered a halt in the Orleans, Calif. Fuels Reduction project until the Forest Service could provide a remedial plan. He ordered them to submit a plan to the court by Aug. 1, 2011 and both sides are to be back in court Sept. 1.
The Six Rivers National Forest is in far northern California in Del Norte, Humboldt and Trinity Counties. The Orleans project, was a wildfire suppression effort. After lengthy negotiations with environmentalists and the tribe, areas were designed to thin, log, and burn forest lands on 2,700 acres in the national forest. The plan called for particular caution around Karuk spiritual areas, including Medicine Man Trail and other sites.
But when crews began logging with heavy equipment the agreement fell apart. The tribe, environmentalists and some in the Orleans community sued in 2010 saying the agency violated an agreement by logging with heavy equipment without adequately informing the contractor, Timber Products, how to protect sensitive cultural resources.
Alsup declined to attribute the failings to “sloppiness, poor decision-making, or improper motivations” for the failed communication between the Forest Service and Timber Products. But he said the failures constitute violation of the National historic Preservation Act.
as part of a fire safety program in the Six Rivers National Forest