The timber industry is praising a federal court ruling ordering an Idaho sportsmen group to pay attorney fees in a battle over the Cove-Mallard area in the Panhandle.
U.S. District Court Judge Edward Lodge on Thursday directed the Idaho Sporting Congress to pay the legal expenses of the Intermountain Forest Industry Association and Shearer Lumber Co., about $4,500.
“It’s not an insignificant event. It may signal a change in the tide on the forest,” association spokesman Ken Kohli said Friday.
The Sporting Congress sought an injunction to halt cutting in the Cove-Mallard area of the Nez Perce National Forest. Logging opponents say it is the largest contiguous roadless area left in the lower 48 states.
Forest Superintendent Mike King also was named as a defendant.
“The court is well aware of plaintiff’s conduct and litigation tactics in the course of this action,” Lodge wrote of the congress. “The court is also aware that the timber sales challenged in this action was the subject of more than one previous suit, the primary one of which was fully and finally litigated in this district prior to the filing of the present action.”
Sporting Congress officials said Friday they had not read the ruling.
Lodge’s decision underscores the association’s contention that anti-logging litigation is out of control in the federal courts, Kohli said.