Forest Service faces lawsuit on roadless-area timber harvest

By Marc Heller | 04/26/2024 01:25 PM EDT

The suit says a forest restoration project in Utah goes beyond what’s allowed, but the agency says the work will help the region’s iconic aspen trees.

Ashley National Forest

Trees are seen in the Vernal Ranger District of the Ashley National Forest. Louis Haynes/USDA/Wikipedia

A project the Forest Service says will save aspen trees in Utah is testing a 20-year-old rule to protect areas of national forests from road construction and timber harvesting.

The agency faces a lawsuit from the Center for Biological Diversity over an aspen restoration project that could result in thinning of trees across as much as 147,00 acres protected by the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule, including nearly 14,000 acres of aspen stands for commercial timber sales.

The complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Utah said the project violates the roadless-area rule and the National Environmental Policy Act by not identifying specific areas for logging, prescribed fire and other measures and not detailing the diameter of trees to be cut, although the Forest Service has said it envisions generally smaller-diameter trees to be taken.


The suit was filed by the CBD and three other environmental groups