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The Oregonian, By Scott Learn
See the full story with photos here.
The lawsuit says the 17 miles of trails on the lower ski slopes, designed for use from July to October, would increase erosion into the sensitive headwaters of Still Creek and the West Fork of the Salmon River. It would also disturb summer recreation such as hiking and wildflower viewing, the groups charge, spread noxious weeds and disturb wildlife, including elk, that rely on high alpine meadows during calving season.
Timberline would install bike carriers on the Jeff Flood chairlift, its newest lift, and install jumps and other skill features along the trails. RLK and Company, the resort's longtime operator, has said the trails would have a full-time maintenance crew.
RLK proposed the project in 2010. Mt. Hood National Forest Supervisor Christopher Worth approved the park in November after two years of review that included an environmental assessment and 1,200 public comments.
In his decision letter, Worth said the project design -- including sediment traps and siting trails away from streams when possible -- would limit erosion and damage to vegetation. The project will include watershed restoration projects to help keep sediment out of streams, improving conditions in two Mount Hood watersheds "beyond their current state," Worth said.
The lawsuit contends the Forest Service required some of the restoration in past projects, but they failed or were not attempted. It also says the Forest Service is assuming restoration will work quickly to contain erosion, when evidence from forest road restoration projects indicates it won't.
The Crag Law Center filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Portland on behalf of Bark, a Mount Hood environmental watchdog group, Friends of Mt. Hood, the Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club and the Northwest Environmental Defense Center.
-- Scott Learn