Federal judge to consider motion in Tongass logging case

Posted: Friday, April 13, 2001

KETCHIKAN (AP) -- A federal judge has agreed to consider the Alaska Forest Association's request to intervene in a case that has stopped all logging on roadless areas of the Tongass National Forest.

''It's good news because it indicates the judge is responding to our urgency,'' Jack Phelps, executive director of AFA, said of the decision Tuesday by U.S. District Court Judge James Singleton Jr.

In a March 30 ruling, Singleton enjoined the U.S. Forest Service from taking any actions that change the wilderness character of roadless areas until the agency prepares studies that analyze those lands for potential wilderness recommendations. Singleton's order conformed to a request from the Sierra Club, the Wilderness Society and other environmental groups in a 2000 lawsuit against Department of Agriculture Under Secretary James Lyons and the Forest Service.

Last week, the Forest Service responded by suspending all logging activities in roadless areas of the Tongass. Federal court rules allow the losing party, in this case the Department of Agriculture and Forest Service, to file a motion to amend the judgment by Friday (April 13).

The Alaska Congressional delegation has asked the Department of Agriculture to file such a motion, which Forest Service officials and attorneys are preparing now. On Monday, the Alaska Forest Association, along with several Southeastern municipalities and individuals, filed a motion to intervene in the case on behalf of the Forest Service.

The forest association also submitted a companion motion to alter or amend the judgment but it will not be filed officially unless Singleton approves the request to intervene.

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