Tennesseans Sue Forest Service
for Breaking Clean Water Law
September 9, 2000
Sue Forest Service for Breaking Clean Water Law [excerpt from press release]
The Southern Environmental Law Center filed suit against the U.S. Forest Service for approving a timber sale in the Cherokee National Forest that would pollute streams already too dirty to meet Tennessee's water quality standards.
Last year, the Forest Service approved a 131-acre timber sale on Rich Mountain in Unicoi County, an area of the national forest frequented by Knoxville resident Ray Payne and members of Cherokee Forest Voices for hiking, fishing, wildlife viewing and other activities. The sale involves several large clearcuts and approximately 1.5 miles of road construction or repair on steep terrain that would result in significant sedimentation of the Nolichucky River and Broad Shoals Creek, the main streams draining the area. Both waterways are listed by Tennessee as already too polluted to meet state water quality standards.
Under section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act, states must identify streams that are too dirty for fishing, swimming, drinking or sustaining aquatic wildlife, and then develop plans to clean them up. Once a stream is listed, the federal government cannot contribute additional sources of the pollutant. Tennessee has listed the Nolichucky River and its tributary, Broad Shoals Creek, for excessive sedimentation.
The citizens are asking the court to rescind the Forest Service's approval of the timber sale and compel the agency to complete the necessary analysis.
Doug Ruley, SELC, (828) 285-9125
Catherine Murray, Cherokee Forest Voices, (423) 929-8163