EPIC staff and volunteers have been getting out into the field and groundtruthing timber sales to verify compliance with Forest Service decisions and environmental policies. The Jess Project, a timber sale in the North Fork Salmon River watershed, proposed by the Klamath National Forest, would treat about 1,960 acres of treatments including: ridgetop, roadside, silvicultural and meadow treatments. EPIC has engaged throughout the environmental review process by attending field trips, doing field reviews, submitting substantive comments, participating in the multiparty monitoring group, filing an objection to the project and getting boots on the ground to verify whether the project is properly implemented. While monitoring the Jess Project, EPIC found many fire resistant mature and old-growth trees on north facing slopes as well as trees located in riparian reserves that were marked to be logged.
Using mobile mapping software, EPIC staff was able to take GPS referenced photos of the project area and directly plot them on the Forest Service’s project map to illustrate how silviculture prescriptions described in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and displayed on the map of the proposed action were not reflective of the marked trees on the ground. According to page 21 of the Jess Project Final Environmental Impact Statement, “There are 2,265 acres of hydrologic riparian reserves in the project area…[and] there are no treatments proposed on these acres.” However, within the few riparian reserves that were monitored by EPIC, this was not the case. Instead, large groups of mature trees were marked for harvest in the middle of riparian reserves that are supposed to be protected and off limits to logging.
The Wild and Scenic North Fork Salmon River is an important watershed for one of the last remaining wild spring Chinook salmon runs and contains critical habitat for rare and threatened species. Logging within riparian reserves causes salmon-choking sediment to flow into creeks throughout the watershed, which have been cumulatively hit over the years by wildfire, firefighting and post-fire logging. EPIC staff was able to document these areas and report findings to the Klamath National Forest and North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board. Some of the areas have been corrected and remarked; however, there are other areas that need to be looked at prior to the project going out to bid for contract. EPIC will be helping to ensure that the rest of the waterways are adequately protected.
Check out the maps below to see what we have documented: