Conservation groups filed suit against the U.S. Forest Service on March 15 for allegedly allowing unlawful, high-impact logging in Polk County, Tenn., along Tumbling Creek in the Ocoee Ranger District of the Cherokee National Forest.
The filing groups — the regional Heartwood organization, Sierra Club Tennessee Chapter and Tennessee Heartwood — are represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center, a nonprofit law firm. The groups are concerned with the Dinkey Sale, which would allow logging on 534 acres.
The three conservation groups expressed concern over potential irreparable damages to native wildlife and water quality at Tumbling Creek, which they described as one of the healthiest streams and watersheds in the area. A logging project on the steep slopes of Tumbling Creek would increase the risk of soil erosion and runoff.
“The public came forward and said, ‘We don’t want to see these kinds of erosion problems on our lands ever again,’ but the agency simply refuses to learn from its mistakes. They are sweeping literal dirt under the rug,” said staff attorney Sam Evans of the Southern Environmental Law Center in a press release.
Four other conservation groups — Cherokee Forest Voices, MountainTrue, The Wilderness Society and Wild South — shared similar concerns with the agency.
The Cherokee National Forest public affairs office declined to comment due to current litigation. — By Shelby Jones