| FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Jan. 11, 2006
Contact: Erik Ryberg, Staff Attorney, Center for Biological Diversity: 520-623-5252 ext. 308
Forest Service Delays or Withdraws Controversial Logging Plans
Decision Follows Earlier Withdrawal of Natural Gas Project,
TUCSON, Ariz.– The U.S. Forest Service has withdrawn plans for two controversial projects and significantly delayed plans for a third on the Coconino, Carson, and Santa Fe National Forests in Arizona and New Mexico. All three decisions have been in response to challenges from the Center for Biological Diversity, which cited the harmful impacts the projects would have on wildlife and habitat.
In separate letters to the Center the Forest Service has reversed its decisions to install natural gas wells in the Carracas project on the Carson National Forest, and to log national forestland in the Deer Lakes Project on the Santa Fe National Forest, both in New Mexico. Both decisions cited impacts to wildlife and old growth forests from the plans, and followed administrative appeals filed by the Center.
The Coconino National Forest in Arizona also has been directed to delay logging plans on approximately 8,000 acres of national forestland until impacts to wildlife and old-growth forests are addressed.
“This is the second time in a year a logging project on the Coconino National Forest has been sent back to the drawing board due to wildlife effects,” said Erik Ryberg, a staff attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “I wish they would start getting it right.”
The natural gas well on the Carson National Forest was just one of hundreds that are entering the planning process. The environmental planning for the well failed to take into account the cumulative effects of each well, Ryberg said. “They like to focus on just the impacts of one well at a time,” said Ryberg. “But you start to get hundreds, or even thousands of these wells, and those small impacts start to become tremendous. There has been a complete breakdown of environmental planning for oil and gas drilling under the Bush administration.”
The Forest Service’s announcement in December that it would no longer permit public review or public challenge to its long-term plans will exacerbate this failure, Ryberg said. “Long term plans are now deliberately designed so that they do not put oil and gas development in any jeopardy.”