Umatilla National Forest timber harvest plan upheld

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SPOKANE — A federal judge has upheld a plan by the U.S. Forest Service to proceed with a timber harvest and fuel reduction plan for the Umatilla National Forest.

The 3,900-acre ecosystem restoration project had been challenged by The Lands Council, the Hells Canyon Preservation Council and the League of Wilderness Defenders.

The project in the South George area of the Pomeroy Ranger District will consist mostly of removing smaller trees that have grown into the forest after decades of fire suppression. The harvesting is designed to return forest conditions closer to historic conditions and thereby reduce the risk of large, catastrophic wildfires.

In a release, Michael C. Ormsby, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, said the Forest Service had property analyzed the environmental impacts of the proposed project and ensured compliance with environmental laws.

The decision was handed down by U.S. District Court Judge Fred Van Sickle.

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