April 20, 2023

Earthrise Alum Jesse Buss Makes Our Arguments to Save Walton Lake’s Old Growth Forest Before the Ninth Circuit

On March 30th Jesse Buss (2012 Earthrise alum) presented oral argument before the Ninth Circuit in Seattle, urging the court to leave in place an injunction preventing the Forest Service from logging hundreds of old-growth firs surrounding the popular Walton Lake area in Oregon’s Ochoco National Forest. Jesse’s co-counsel Earthrise Clinical Professor Tom Buchele and Bridgett Chevallier (2020 Earthrise alum and former legal fellow) were at counsel’s table for the argument.

Jesse Buss snaps a selfie of himself with co-counsel Tom Buchele and Bridgett Chevallier outside of Nakamura Courthouse in Seattle.

Earthrise and Jesse Buss, representing the Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project, have been working to save the Walton Lake old growth firs since 2015. We successfully obtained preliminary injunctions against the proposed logging in 2016 and 2020. However, quite unexpectedly, in September of 2022, the district court judge abruptly reversed himself, denied all but one of our claims when ruling on the parties’ summary judgment motion, and then initially indicated he would dissolve the 2020 injunction that barred any logging of large trees. We were able to convince the district court to leave the existing injunction in place long enough for us to seek emergency relief from the Ninth Circuit. In October, the appellate court granted us a stay of the district court’s order dissolving the injunction until it could fully consider the merits of our claims. We hope for a ruling this year.