U.S. agency halts plans for
logging in Ga. forest
Charles Seabrook - Staff
December 8, 2000
The U.S. Forest Service has abandoned
plans for 16 of 24 new logging projects in Georgia's Chattahoochee
National Forest in response to a lawsuit by environmental groups who
contend that timber cutting harms wildlife and pollutes mountain
The decision, in effect, halts most of the logging in the
750,000-acre forest indefinitely, perhaps permanently. The aim of
the environmental groups is to stop all timber cutting in the
While the Forest Service offered no details on its decision, the
environmental groups viewed it as a concession by the agency that
regulators allowed the logging without adequately considering
possible harm to wildlife and the degradation of the forest's
Most of the logging projects in question hadn't begun, and
several had been suspended after a different lawsuit was filed more
than a year ago.
In addition to the suspensions in the Chattahoochee forest,
timber cutting projects in three of six tracts in the Oconee
National Forest in Middle Georgia also will be halted. Also, more
than 20 other logging activities will be stopped in the Cherokee
National Forest in Tennessee; the Bienville, Homochitto and DeSoto
national forests in Mississippi; and the Ouachita National Forest in
"This is a big victory for forests across the South but there
remains a good bit to do," said Eric Huber, a lawyer with the New
Orleans-based Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund.
Gary Pierson, director of planning for the Forest Service's
Southern region, said that since there is no decision anymore for
the logging projects, "no work can go forward until new decisions
can be made." That process could take years.
The agency's decision to halt the projects came in response to a
lawsuit filed by Huber on behalf of the Sierra Club and seven other
groups last July in U.S. District Court in Atlanta.
"The Forest Service is supposed to be in the business of
conserving our national treasures, not selling them off to the top
bidders," said Rene Voss, a Sierra Club director.
Huber said that logging, especially the practice of clear
cutting, "wipes out entire habitats for endangered animals. Road
building and other logging activities further fragment wildlife
habitat, cause soil erosion and other degradation and can destroy
entire rare bird nesting grounds."
He said the Forest Service's decision does not end the lawsuit,
which asks for the agency also to stop more than 20 other logging
projects in nearly three dozen national forests in 13 states.