Everyone seemed to recognize that this week’s 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision on logging road run-off was a hefty one. But so far, none of the news coverage really answers the critical questions of just how life-altering it will be – for the Oregon Department of Forestry, the timber industry, and the stormwater permitting agencies.
Part of the reason may be that no one knows yet. It will take time for people to sort out exactly what the court intends to have happen and who is going to do it, my sources say. But I thought I’d put these questions on the record and commit to finding some answers:
- This is a biggie: Will the state appeal the decision? So far, ODF’s not saying.
- How many logging roads will this affect? The lawsuit itself focused on two roads in the Tillamook State Forest. But … the plaintiffs say the outcome could have much larger implications.
- Could the stormwater permitting process be used to stall or stop timber sales in the future?
- If so, what does that mean for the timber sales in state forests that fund county and state forestry budgets?
- Has the timber industry (and perhaps ODF) been deliberately skirting Clean Water Act rules for permitting stormwater runoff into rivers and streams (as the plaintiffs in the case at the Crag Law Center claim)?
“ODF doesn’t even have permits for its existing road network,” said Chris Winter, an attorney with the Crag Law Center. “The timber industry has tried to evade the reach of the Clean Water Act’s permit program for years. This decision will result in permits for logging roads on federal and private land as well, which will improve water quality throughout the region.”
Now’s your chance: Any other questions I should be asking?