Take Action! Protest Destructive Post-Fire Logging on the Salmon River

By
Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013
Photo#1_KellyGulch

Kelly Gulch Hillside- within the Salmon Fire Project

Take Action! The Wild and Scenic (W&S) North Fork Salmon River is threatened with post-fire “salvage” logging. The Salmon/Scott River Ranger District of the Klamath National Forest (NF) is proposing to streamline activities within Inventoried Roadless Areas and riparian reserves, including extensive new road construction over trails and overgrown roads.  Over 60% of the 1,872 acre project area is within Critical Habitat for the threatened Northern Spotted Owl.  The W&S North Fork Salmon River is designated a Key watershed, meaning it is critical for salmon recovery.  The river is also listed under the Clean Water Act as being impaired. This project jeopardizes the wild nature of the North Fork Salmon River and the well-being of the wildlife and communities that depend on it.

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“Existing Road”

The Klamath NF deceptively claims that no new temporary roads are needed, however some of the “existing” roadbeds have not been used for decades, have completely grown over and are covered in trees, rocks and landslides. One of these very old unused roads, which is nearly a mile long, is located on a steep and extremely unstable hillside. A great deal of heavy equipment and severe earth moving would be required to make it ready for logging trucks and equipment. Further, when there is a road there is often a need for a landing at the end of the road to accommodate large trucks and heavy equipment.  Landings are bulldozed flats that are 1/2-acre to up to two-acre openings.

Photo#3_LookCloseFlaging

Same “road” look closely for the flagging which indicates location of the road.

Over 300 acres of the project is within larger forest stands.  One of these areas along the Garden Gulch Trail provides high quality Critical Habitat for the Northern Spotted Owl, and is a popular gateway that leads into the Marble Mountain Wilderness.  EPIC and the conservation community have been defending this beautiful forest stand for a decade, first fighting the Meteor Timber Sale, and then recently in opposition to the Little Cronan Timber Sale.  Again, the agency is calling the trail an “existing” road, and now proposes to open the trail, which is adjacent to a creek, to bulldozers, logging trucks and heavy equipment.

Garden Gulch Trail next to the creek and proposed road location

Garden Gulch Trail next to the creek and proposed road location.

This particular forest stand exemplifies high quality mixed conifer habitat and contains hundreds of big older trees, many of which are still very alive and green.  Only very small patches of the forest burned at high severity, which actually contributes to the ecological qualities of this ideal post-fire forest stand.  These trees are providing shade and contributing to a healthy complex forest structure, and they will be providing future nutrients to the soil.  It is all part of a natural process. Bulldozers, trucks, roads and landings do not belong on this trail or in this showcase forest stand.

Southern Boundary next to the Garden Gulch Trail

Southern Boundary next to the Garden Gulch Trail

There are four Northern Spotted Owl (NSO) nest sites (core areas) within the project vicinity.  Recent science shows that the owls benefit from burned forest stands and that post-fire logging has the potential to increase extinction rates, especially when done within core areas.  The NSO species Recovery Plans calls for “conserving and restoring habitat elements that take a long time to develop (e.g., large trees, medium and large snags, downed wood).

In their rush to implement this ecologically damaging project, the agency has sought an Emergency Situation Determination (ESD) from the regional forester.  If the request for an ESD were to be granted it would mean that trees can be cut down as soon as a decision is issued and a contract is signed, despite any appeal or claims brought in court.  Seeking an ESD circumvents judicial review, eliminating the public’s recourse in challenging a poor decision that threatens our public lands, making public participation a mere charade. This project not only threatens the ecological viability of forests on the edge of the Marble Mountain Wilderness, the Klamath National Forest is attempting to undermine democracy.

Take Action Today to Stop the Salmon River Salvage Project! Let the Regional Forester and the Forest Supervisor know that you oppose post-fire logging that results in habitat destruction and road construction in designated Key watersheds like the North Fork Salmon River.

Post-fire landscapes are considered to be one of the most rare, endangered, and ecologically important habitats in the western U.S.  They are rich, vibrant and alive and often provide more biodiversity than green forests.  Read more about the environmental effects of post-fire logging.  Take a walk in Garden Gulch.   See the overgrown unused Kelly Gulch A Spur Road on steep and unstable hillsides proposed for re-construction.  View more photos here.