U.S. Water News Online
PORTLAND, Ore. -- A Portland legal group has alerted four
timber companies, State Forester Marvin Brown and the state Board of
Forestry that a lawsuit is in the works because of federal Clean
Water Act violations.
The Northwest Environmental Defense Center says logging roads are
funneling polluted water into Coast Range rivers when it rains.
The group, which is based at Lewis & Clark College, has
effectively used similar Clean Water Act lawsuits against companies
releasing pollution into the Columbia Slough and Willamette River.
The group said it has water tests and video footage that prove the
muddy water is entering the Trask and Kilchis rivers, prime salmon
rivers that run into Tillamook Bay.
Executive Director Mark Riskedahl said he hopes the state and
companies will negotiate a solution within the next two months,
otherwise the groups will file a lawsuit.
The Oregon Department of Forestry has documented the problems in
its own reports over the past decade. The department told The
Oregonian newspaper that it would not comment on the planned lawsuit.
Steve Zika, president of Hampton Tree Farms, one of the companies
that faces the possible suit, said Oregon forests lead the nation on
"I'd love to match the water in our forests with water around
Portland or any other area," he said.
State forest practice rules require that runoff from roads be
directed away from rivers and streams so the muddy water can be
filtered through the soil of the forest floor. The state has spent
millions of dollars on road systems across the Tillamook and Clatsop
state forests to meet that standard, said Keith Mills, forest
engineering coordinator with the Department of Forestry.
"We know this is an important issue, and we've really been
focusing on making improvements," he said. "The roads are very
different now. They're much improved."
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