A federal judge has ruled against efforts by the Alliance of the Wild Rockies to halt a planned timber-harvest project on the Colville National Forest, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Thursday.
The alliance filed a lawsuit in 2016 challenging the U.S. Forest Service’s decision that same year to approve the North Fork Mill Creek A to Z Project, which had been designed through the cooperation with the federal agency and the Colville-based Vaagen Brothers Lumber Co.
Among several claims, attorneys for the the alliance argued the Forest Service had violated the National Forest Management Act when it allowed Vaagen Brothers to pay for the contractor who conducted the environmental analysis and the environmental assessment for the project.
But U.S. District Court Judge Rosanna Malouf Peterson ruled that the Vaagen Brothers contract was based on open and fair bidding and that it did not violate the forest management act. She also found no conflict of interest in allowing the timber company to hire the subcontractor “because the extensive record in the case showed that the objectivity and integrity of the NEPA process had not been compromised,” according to a news release.
“Sound forest management benefits the American public and provides needed resources and recreational experiences close to our communities,” U.S. Attorney Joseph Harrington said in the release.
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