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Lawsuit accuses BLM of missing quotas for board feet

Members of the timber industry sue the interior department in the hopes of increasing timber harvest in Western Oregon.

If too few trees fall in the forest, do they make a sound? The saying might be a little off, but the timber industry has heard the effects loud and clear. Members of the industry in Western Oregon, including Rough and Ready Lumber Co. and the Swanson Group Manufacturing, have filed suit in an attempt to force the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to increase its timber harvest in the region.

According to timber industry, the harvest in the area is only a fraction of what could be sustainably cut. The Medford District’s 2011 fiscal year plan, for example, calls for harvesting 19 million board feet out of 97 million board feet noted in its management plan. A spokesman for the district said in a statement that other projects would push the timber harvest to about 21 million board feet for the 2011 year.

Still, with half the money raised from the sale of the relevant timber going to the 18 counties in the Western Oregon region, much is at stake for those in the area. The funds, proponents say, are essential to operating the rural government. The BLM is required to sell 502 million board feet each year—only half of what the forests can sustainably produce. The plaintiffs seek to have the harvest increased to the amount that can be sustainably cut.

Kayleigh Roberts

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