On Dec. 12, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is slated to hear oral arguments regarding the destiny of the Lostine Corridor Public Safety Project. The hearing will take place in Seattle, Wash.

The approximately 2100-acre forest treatment project, purported by the U.S. Forest Service to aid in protecting both campers and corridor residents from wildfire, was highly controversial from the start.

Nearly as soon as the project was announced in 2017, environmental groups Greater Hells Canyon Council and Oregon Wild used legal means to try to thwart the project. The groups filed an appeal to the project in May of 2017, essentially calling it a thinly disguised commercial logging venture.

The groups also accused the USFS of skirting National Environmental Policy Act regulations by improperly labeling the project with a “categorical exclusion” moniker to avoid formal environmental analysis of the project.

Wallowa County applied for and received status as an intervenor in the case, which allows it to act as a third party.

The environmental groups lost the initial hearing presided over by Magistrate Patricia Sullivan in District Court. A further appeal to U.S. District Judge Michael Simon upheld Sullivan’s decision.

Undeterred, the environmental groups went up the ladder and appealed Simon’s decision to the court of appeals. Although preliminary work had started on the project, the groups also filed an emergency motion for injunction to stop the work ahead of the appeals court hearing.

Both the USFS and Wallowa County filed their opposition to the injunction request. The court rejected the emergency injunction without comment.

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