Lawsuit filed challenging logging plans

Thursday, July 20th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

(Muskogee-AP) -- A Tulsa man and a Coal County commissioner are suing to halt any planned logging around Lake Atoka until archaeological and environmental studies can be made. Oklahoma City owns water rights and about 11,000 acres around the lake in southeastern Oklahoma. It is one of the city's sources for drinking water.

Oklahoma City has proposed selling timber rights to about 2,000 acres and using the profits for recreational improvements and erosion control. But Bob Jackman and Commissioner Alvin Pebworth say the city hasn't taken sensitive archaeological and environmental factors into account.

The lawsuit alleges citizens will lose their federal rights for preservation of cultural heritage. The lawsuit also claims some of the shortleaf pine and post oak trees in the area could be 200 to 400 years old. James Couch is general manager of the Oklahoma City water utilities trust. Couch says the city has contacted several government agencies in an effort to quote "do this proper and right."