What kind of forest management should the Forest Service do after a fire? That was the question facing the Shasta-Trinity National Forest after the fires of summer 2015. Does it go for a timber grab disguised as “restoration,” like the Klamath National Forest in the Westside Project, or does it try to work with the community to meet multiple needs?
For the most part, the Shasta-Trinity National Forest has done it right with the Trinity Post-Fire Hazard Reduction and Salvage Project. The Forest Service has focused its efforts on hazardous trees near roads, instead of timber grabs. It has deliberately chosen public participation and process (instead of end-arounds of the National Environmental Policy Act). And it has emphasized returning fire to the landscape in the future.
As part of the Trinity Post Fire Project, the Forest Service has developed a wide range of alternatives, from those that are heavy on logging (Alternatives 1, 2, and 3) to those that are light on logging or contain no commercial logging whatsoever (Alternatives 4 and 5, respectively). Given the potential negative effects to wildlife and the low price this burned wood is likely to receive, EPIC recommends that the Forest Service adopt Alternative 5, the “Minimum Impact Alternative.”
Alternative 5 benefits the local community by creating forest jobs—212 jobs to be exact—reducing “fuels” on 4,000 acres immediately alongside roads. It benefits forest users by keeping roads open and accessible. And it will create future shaded fuel breaks to reestablish fire on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. What Alternative 5 doesn’t do is lose taxpayer money on timber sales.