"Salvage Logging" Threatens Ancient Forest Renewal

Oregon "Salvage Logging" Threatens Ancient Forest Renewal

Forest Networking a Project of Forests.org, Inc.

June 7, 2004

OVERVIEW & COMMENTARY by Glen Barry, Ph.D., Forests.org

The Bush administration has announced final plans for one of the largest commercial timber sales in modern history in the Klamath-Siskiyou region of southern Oregon, one of America’s wildest, most pristine places. The site of the 2002 Biscuit wildfire is to be mercilessly "salvage" logged. Some 74,000 logging trucks worth of timber are to be removed - mostly from old-growth, roadless and previously unlogged ancient forests - an amount equal of one quarter of the entire annual U.S. national forest timber harvest. The sale would occur at significant cost to tax-payers.

This crass timber industry pay-off is being justified as a means to ensure forest health and reduce the threat of forest fires. It will achieve neither. Salvage logging is known to increase erosion, impair streams and other wildlife habitat, further damage forests made more fragile by fires, and can actually increase fire risk due to the buildup of hazardous fuel and slash left by logging operations.

A fire-adapted forest that burns naturally (most are on varying periodicities) and is left to recover is not a disaster - it is how many forests regenerate. Trees downed by forest fires provide habitat for wildlife and nutrients needed for their renewal and to help keep forests healthy. Rarely are whole forests destroyed - as clumps of live trees and surrounding intact forests provide materials to seed a new, healthier forest.

There exists no environmental justification to heavily log burned trees in the Klamath-Siskiyou region - one of Western America's most important intact ancient forest landscapes. The region is ecologically unique and home to remarkable biological diversity. As one of America's last large ancient forest wildlands and many important watersheds, it deserves national park status, not destructive first time industrial logging under false pretenses.

Will you buy the lie that heavily logging ancient forests protects them?

Indeed, in most cases it is first time industrial logging and not forest fires that irreparably diminish large and natural forests. Your vigilance provides the last best hope that the Klamath-Siskiyou and the world's other forest cathedrals - evolutionary and ecological treasure troves - will remain able to continue giving us life.

Even ancient forests deserve a fresh start.



Title: Wildfire Logging Plan Rolls Forward

The Forest Service wants to salvage trees scorched in 2002 Oregon blaze. But environmentalists and the governor object.

Source: Copyright 2003, LA Times

Date: June 2, 2004

Byline: Bettina Boxall, Times Staff Writer

Almost two years after President Bush stood in the ashes of one of the largest wildfires in Oregon history, the U.S. Forest Service is moving ahead with an ambitious plan to log fire-killed trees on the burned-over land.

In documents released Tuesday, federal forest officials outlined a proposal to cut enough dead trees to fill more than 74,000 logging trucks. Much of the wood would come from road-less backcountry areas and stands of old growth.

The extent of post-fire logging has been scaled back from an earlier proposal much criticized by environmentalists. But it still calls for a timber harvest that will equal nearly a quarter of the entire national logging volume on Forest Service land last year.

The timber cutting will occur on a fraction of the 500,000 acres in
southwestern Oregon that burned in the 2002 Biscuit fire, which Bush used as a backdrop to launch his campaign for logging legislation.

Flying to the blaze on Air Force One, Bush called the destruction "a
crying shame" and said it was the result of poor forest management. More timber cutting was needed in the West, he said, to thin out dense growth that fuels wildfires. Congress responded by approving legislation that restricted public appeals of logging projects and made it easier for federal managers to approve timber cutting in the name of fire-hazard reduction.

But the fight over Western forest management has continued, as reflected in the controversy accompanying the Biscuit timber salvage plans.

Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski faulted the plan's "intrusion" into road-less areas.

"The final success of this project cannot be measured just in board feet," the governor said in a statement. "We must also balance the need for economic growth with the need to protect Oregon's natural resources — and I believe this proposal does not go far enough to achieve that balance."

Citing the many conflicting pressures the Forest Service is under, Michael Goergen, executive vice president of the Society of American Foresters, applauded the proposal.

"Practically and realistically, this is the best decision they could make recognizing all the constraints they were under," Goergen said. "There were a variety of different constituents they have to please on all sides, and they have a variety of legal barriers."

However, Chris West of the American Forest Resources Council in Portland predicted the project would get tied up in court. "What a waste," he said. "If we don't utilize some of this wood we're going to have to cut green trees someplace."

Despite the volume of logging in the plan, most of the fire area will be left alone. "We're proposing to salvage on only 4% of the overall
landscape," said Scott Conroy, supervisor of the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. "We're leaving 96% to recover naturally."

That failed to appease environmental groups.

"It's still one of the largest timber sales the West has ever seen in an area that deserves national park consideration. It's the wrong thing to do in a very special place," said Doug Heiken, a field representative for the Oregon National Resources Council.

In a draft released late last year, the Forest Service said it wanted to log 518 million board feet of commercial timber on the burned area. Its final environmental impact statement, released Tuesday, drops that figure to 370 million board feet.

Conroy said several factors contributed to the reduction in projected timber volume. Field checks revealed that there was more stream-side acreage that could not be logged, and also that there were more live trees than originally estimated in old growth areas.

Only dead trees without any green growth will be logged. The project, Conroy added, would provide jobs, directly and indirectly. But environmentalists say the logging will damage environmentally fragile burned areas while removing the biggest, most commercially valuable — but least flammable — trees.

They also complain that much of the timber cutting will occur in remote country that provides valuable habitat for wildlife dependent on old growth trees even when they are dead.

"It's not so much a question of volume as where it's coming from," said Dominick DellaSala, director of the World Wildlife Fund's Klamath-Siskiyou Regional Program in Ashland, Ore.

"They're proposing to get most of it from road-less areas and ancient forest reserves. For the Forest Service to say logging in those reserves is consistent with recovery of the [spotted] owl is scientifically false. It will do a lot more harm than good," he said.


Title: Bush Administration Finalizes Plans for Destructive Logging in Oregon

One of the Largest Timber Sales in Modern History Slated for Spectacular Wild Forests

Source: Sierra Club

Date: June 1, 2004

Annie Strickler (202) 675-2384
Ivan Maluski (503) 243-6656

Medford, OR – The Bush administration today announced its final plan to implement one of the largest commercial timber sales in modern history in the Klamath-Siskiyou region of southern Oregon, one of America’s wildest, most pristine places. The Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Biscuit Fire Recovery Project calls for logging 370 million board feet of trees while largely ignoring the immense values of recreation, wildlife habitat and clean water and the need to help protect communities from future fires.

“Instead of focusing resources near Oregon communities that are threatened by wildfire, the Bush Administration is pushing a divisive and harmful policy that drastically increases logging in the backcountry far from people’s homes and businesses,” said Carl Pope, Sierra Club Executive Director. “There is a better way. We can responsibly manage Oregon and America’s National Forests and protect communities and our nation’s wild heritage.” The Bush administration plan would:

• Log 370 million board feet making this the largest timber sale in modern U.S. history.

• Log 150 million board feet in more than 8,000 acres of inventoried roadless areas.

• Log 170 million board feet out of old growth reserves (this does not count the old growth reserves found in roadless areas)

Planning a massive logging project in the Klamath-Siskiyou region to date has cost the US Treasury at least $5.8 million. According to a recent study by the non-partisan group Taxpayers for Common Sense, logging in the Siskiyou Wild Rivers Area will cost taxpayers anywhere from $3 million to $100 million depending on how many trees are actually cut. As an example, a logging plan that cuts 300 million board feet of timber, less than what the Bush administration originally proposed, will cost taxpayers $36 million.

Despite spending millions of dollars of taxpayer money on planning and implementing a destructive and controversial timber sale that will reap benefits for the timber industry, the Bush administration’s plan fails to provide funds and resources for communities threatened by fire,” said Pope. “That money would be better spent helping people protect their homes and businesses.”

Out of 22,856 public comments received on the Forest Service’s Preferred Alternative, 95 percent opposed an extreme amount of commercial logging. However, their final plan released today represents one of the largest timber sales in modern history and will mean more than 90,000 logging trucks leaving this spectacular area. The Forest Service also largely ignored suggestions by conservation groups and concerned citizens that would begin important restoration work, create jobs and help protect communities from future wildfires.

“The Bush Administration’s vision for Oregon’s National Forests is one where we log across the landscape before, during and after wildfires no matter the costs and impacts,” said Pope. The Klamath-Siskiyou region is home to remarkable biological diversity, making it one of the most unique regions in North America, and richest temperate regions in the world. A high concentration of wild and scenic rivers – including the renown Illinois and Rogue Rivers – and their tributaries contain some of the most valuable salmon and steelhead runs in the contiguous United States, providing a critical refuge for wild fish populations at risk of extinction. The area is part of the larger Klamath-Siskiyou Region and the proposed Siskiyou Wild Rivers National Monument.

There is considerable scientific evidence that “salvage logging” increases erosion, impairs streams and other wildlife habitat, causes additional damage to forests made more fragile by fires, and can actually increase fire risk due to the buildup of hazardous fuel and slash left by logging operations. In fact, trees downed by forest fires provide habitat for wildlife and nutrients needed to help keep forests healthy.

Title: Proposed wilderness expansion covers hard-fought ground

Source: Associated Press

Date: June 3, 2004

GRANTS PASS -- The 64,000 acres of new wilderness that the U.S. Forest Service wants to create within the area burned by the massive 2002 Biscuit Fire covers ground that has been fought over for more than 20 years by environmentalists trying to put old growth forests off-limits to logging.

Earth First! protesters laid down in front of bulldozers in 1983 to stop construction of the Bald Mountain Road through the North Kalmiopsis Roadless Area. Others climbed charred trees to stop salvage logging after the Silver Creek drainage burned in 1987.

Environmentalists, however, are far from supportive of the Forest Service's current wilderness proposal, saying it amounts to a trade-off for support to log other parts of the Siskiyou National Forest that should also be protected.

"The proposal on the table is simply an effort to give the lightest patina of greenness to a very ecologically damaging fiscally irresponsible logging proposal," said Andy Kerr, a consultant working with the Oregon Natural Resources Council's effort to add 343,000 acres to the Kalmiopsis Wilderness -- five times the Forest Service proposal.

Environmentalists and members of Congress were taken by surprise this week when Rogue-Siskiyou National Forest Supervisor Scott Conroy proposed adding to the Kalmiopsis Wilderness, which covers 180,000 acres in the middle of the 500,000 acres that burned in the 2002 Biscuit fire. The proposal is not part of the environmental impact statement in support of logging 370 million board feet of timber killed by the fire.

Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., whose district includes the Kalmiopsis, said he had been in regular talks with Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey over the Biscuit salvage plan, but never heard "a whisper" about wilderness.

"It would be a very rare day in this Republican Congress," for a wilderness proposal to become law, DeFazio said. "But election years sometimes bring interesting opportunities."

The idea came from Lance Clark on Gov. Ted Kulongoski's natural resources staff after touring the Biscuit burn with federal officials, including Rey, the point man on President Bush's forest policy.

Clark noticed no logging was planned in areas close to the Kalmiopsis, and suggested enlarging the wilderness, said Jim Brown, natural resources adviser to the governor. That began a conversation with Rey, who ultimately supported the idea.

Kulongoski would like to see even more added to the Kalmiopsis Wilderness, because he disagrees with the Forest Service plan to log roadless areas that provide valuable fish and wildlife habitat, Brown said.

Plans to log 8,000 acres of roadless area would make 50,000 acres ineligible for future wilderness, noted Mike Anderson of The Wilderness Society.

"That's clearly an unacceptable trade off," Anderson said.

The timber industry was not particularly opposed to the wilderness addition, said Tom Partin, president of the American Forest Resource Council, "because a lot of that is unsuitable for timber anyway."

The wilderness is named for Kalmiopsis leacheana, a red flowering bush that depends on fire to stop the encroachment of trees and brush. The region is known for rugged, inaccessible canyons, rare plants and serpentine soils that have a hard time growing trees.


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