GRANTS PASS, Ore. — The U.S. Forest Service on Thursday started lifting a logging ban on national forests imposed as part of the government shutdown.
The agency filed documents in U.S. District Court in Medford saying that contract officers will start notifying timber purchasers that they can resume work. The documents were part of a motion filed by the Forest Service to dismiss a lawsuit from the timber industry over the logging shutdown.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which sells timber in Western Oregon, lifted its logging ban, too.
“With timber and stewardship contracts, resumption of operations will depend on factors such as weather, terrain conditions and the readiness of contractors to mobilize,” Forest Service spokesman Leo Kay said in an email. ” We look forward to working with our stakeholders to get Forest Service programs and activities back up to speed for the public as soon as possible.”
American Forest Resource Council President Tom Partin said in an email they were going ahead with the lawsuit.
A hearing was scheduled Thursday in Medford.
Kay added that national forest campgrounds would reopen as soon as employees could visit them and make sure they were clean and safe after being closed for the past two weeks.
Meanwhile, barricades were removed from the entrance to Crater Lake National Park, where about 70 employees were notified by telephone tree to return to work, said acting superintendent Scott Burch. Crater Lake Lodge and Mazama Campground remained closed for the winter, but about 30 employees of the concessionaire were returning to work. A cafe was open at Rim Village, where most visitors get their first and only view of the nation’s deepest and clearest lake. There was little snow, but the road around the lake was closed for the winter, due to icy patches.
National wildlife refuges were open for hunters, hikers and bird-watchers, though some special events might be delayed, said Robin West, northwest regional head of the refuges system for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Plans to start shooting barred owls in Northern California as part of a formal experiment to see if that will help restore healthy populations of northern spotted owls was not delayed by the shutdown, said Fish and Wildlife spokesman Brent Lawrence. The experiment has been contracted out, and is expected to begin sometime this fall in Northern California and in fall 2014 in Oregon and Washington.
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