Returning to a Natural Cycle of Wildfire

Massive Timber Sale Proposed for Klamath National Forest – Public Meetings Announced

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015
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Photo by Nat PenningtonA massive 43,883 acre post-fire logging project is being proposed by the Klamath National Forest. Almost half of the project is within areas that are supposed to be set aside to protect and enhance old growth forest ecosystems called, Late Successional Reserves. The Forest Service is planning to streamline this unprecedented timber sale, which would shorten public comment opportunities, and speed up the environmental review process.

The proposal is dubiously named the Westside Fire Recovery Project, but instead of acting as a prescription for recovery; the proposal would devastate old growth forests, watersheds, salmon, sensitive animal and plant species, and proposes to plant 20,000 acres of even aged plantation forests that would increase the potential for high intensity fires in the future.

Recent post-fire “salvage” logging projects that have been carried out by the U.S. Forest Service on Klamath National Forest have not followed mitigation measures and have failed to implement project design features put in place to protect wildlife and fisheries, resulting in negative impacts to fish and wildlife.

We recognize the need for hazard tree removal for roadside safety along primary roads, defensible space around homes and communities, and strategic fuel breaks. However, proposed logging in the Westside proposal targets mature forests that are located on steep slopes with unstable soils in high value watersheds for at-risk salmonid populations. This is a region where salmon populations are already heavily impacted by many other factors including dams, diversions and drought, and millions of dollars have been spent on fisheries restoration projects. These irreplaceable ecosystems should not be traded for short-term economic gains.

Forests need fire. Post-fire landscapes are more biologically diverse than unburned forests are considered to be one of the rarest and most ecologically important forest habitats. Historically, Native Americans would use fire as a means to thin out the understory, open up the forests for fruit and nut producing shrubs, and enhance prairie grasslands and to cultivate basket weaving materials. Decades of fire suppression combined with post-fire logging, and uniform tree planting, has allowed for much of the region become densely overgrown and the forests have become less biologically diverse. After a fire burns through a forest, the large old growth trees usually don’t die, the small overcrowded trees are cleared out, the snags that are left become wildlife habitat, and the downed trees hold the slopes together, enhance soil complexity and eventually become fish habitat when they fall into the waterways. However, when roads are made on the sensitive burned soils and many of the largest marketable trees are logged, large sediment loads are sent into watersheds, and the soils, forests and watersheds have a difficulty recovering.

We need your voice to advocate for real recovery! The Forest Service has scheduled informational meetings to allow for public input on the Westside Project. Please come out and voice your concerns for this unprecedented large and hurried process that targets some of the most productive and best habitat for the last remaining run of wild spring Chinook salmon and other rare plant and wildlife species.

Westside Fire Open House Meeting Schedule:

Yreka– Friday, January 30 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Klamath National Forest Headquarters Office

Scott Valley– Saturday, January 31 from 12:00 to 3:00 p.m. at the Fort Jones Community Hall

Klamath River– Tuesday, February 3 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Community Center

Happy Camp– Wednesday, February 4 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Karuk Senior Nutrition Center

Scott Bar– Thursday, February 5 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Community Hall

Sawyers Bar– Friday, February 6 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Salmon River Restoration Council

Seiad– Friday, February 6 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Seiad Fire Hall

Please come to these meetings and be a voice for the wild!


Advocate for Real Recovery

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014
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Take Action: The Klamath National Forest recently proposed a massive post-fire logging operation throughout some of the most important watersheds on the north coast. The Westside project targets up to 43,338 acres concentrated in Late-Successional Reserves (old forests), Riparian Reserves (streamside forests), in Wild and Scenic River corridors and within Northern spotted owl critical habitat.

This summer, fire burned through 200,000 acres of the Mid Klamath watershed, three-quarters of which were low to very low severity. While the fires burned—a necessary and important forest process in the Klamath Mountains—fire suppression efforts left a long-lasting mark on the landscape. Bulldozers marched through the forest creating wide and often ineffective firebreaks stacked with slash and denuding untold miles of ridgelines.

While the proposed cuts are bad in their own right, they are especially egregious in light of the recent past fires and intense fire suppression activities surrounding the Marble Mountain Wilderness Area. Further, there are past, present and proposed future timber sales throughout the region. The additional logging proposed in the Westside project would diminish crucial wildlife connectivity, like the Grieder Creek corridor that links contiguous habitat to and from the Marble Mountain Wilderness.

The Klamath National Forest is central to the Klamath/Siskiyou bioregion and is a treasure worth protecting. It is a biodiversity hot spot, supporting a wide variety of unique animals and plants including the endangered Northern spotted owl, Pacific fisher, Humboldt marten, and California wolverine. The cool, clean waters of the area protect California’s most robust salmon runs. Preserving intact forests in this region is also a local solution to climate change. The bioregion contains some of the highest biomass-dense forests in North America, sequestering carbon and storing carbon long after a fire.

Fire is a necessary component of healthy forest ecosystems. EPIC is currently engaging with the Klamath National Forest on a programmatic and project-by-project level to ensure sensible fire management. Post-fire logging is devastating for our wildlife, and wild places. The agency should engage with local community partners like the Western Klamath Restoration Partnership to work towards long-term fire strategies. Comments are due by November 14th. We need your help. Please help us advocate for real recovery.

Click here to take action now!

For more information on fire’s role in our forests and the harmful effects of post-fire logging, please visit our website.


Jess Say No—Take Action to Save Forest Canopy and Wildlife Trees

Monday, November 10th, 2014
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Take Action: The Jess timber sale would remove vast amounts of forest canopy, disturb riparian reserves and targets old growth and mature wildlife trees within Critical Habitat for the Northern spotted owl. The project would cut nearly 1,000 acres of north facing slopes within the North Fork Salmon River watershed on the Klamath National Forest, adding to the cumulative effects of 45,000 acres of wildfire, extreme impacts from firefighting and post-fire logging from the 2013 Salmon Complex Fire.

The Wild and Scenic North Fork Salmon River is one of the most important rivers for the last remaining wild-run of spring Chinook salmon and contains habitat vital to rare and threatened species. These north facing native stands offer cool microclimates that contain precious remnants of older trees and are generally less susceptible to severe fire events. Removing 70% of the forest canopy, as proposed would be detrimental to wildlife and would increase fire behavior in the long-term.

The recently released Draft Environmental Impact Statement did not consider the massive impacts from recent two years of fire activity. Nearly the entire road system in North Fork watershed has seen considerable traffic from large trucks and heavy equipment. The prolonged high-use of roads has caused sediment to flow into creeks throughout the watershed. In the Jess project area, approximately twenty miles of ridge top fire lines were bulldozed to bare earth during the 2014 Whites Fire and are now covered in slash. Further, wet weather post-fire logging has occurred roughly 1,000 acres of steep erodible hillsides directly across the river.

The Jess DEIS did not consider the newly proposed Westside post-fire project introduced by the agency last month, which targets up to 43,883 acres of fragile post-fire habitat throughout the Klamath National Forest. Within the Whites Fire footprint, directly across the river, 7,600 acres of Late Successional (mature trees) Reserves, Riparian Reserves and the North Fork Salmon Wild and Scenic River corridor are threatened.

Please urge Klamath National Forest decision makers to protect our wildlife and wild places and to work proactively and collaborate with local communities, partnerships, watershed restoration and fire safe councils to create an alternative that would follow the recommendations in the Salmon River Community Wildfire Protection Plan and would accomplish fuels reduction, forest health and fire resiliency objectives in a way that retains forest values.

Click here to sign a petition now!

Or submit your own comments through the Forest Service Portal November 17th.

Dozer lines in the proposed Jess timber sale project area from the 2014 Whites Fire

Canopy removal with leave tree mark- all trees not marked with orange would be cut

Jess Project forest stands

Wildlife trees


Protect the Wild Salmon River – Stop “Salvage” Logging

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014
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Photo#1_KellyGulchTake 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 logging on over 1,000 acres of steep slopes, including road construction over trails and overgrown roads.  Over 60% of the 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 and rugged nature of the North Fork Salmon River.

The Klamath NF Environmental Analysis of the Salmon Salvage project continues to claim that no new roads are needed, however one of the “existing” roadbeds, nearly a mile long, has not been used for decade. It is grown over, laden with landslides and located on a steep and unstable hillside. Heavy equipment and severe earth moving would be required to make it ready for 18 wheeler logging trucks. Where there are roads, there are landings to accommodate heavy equipment.  Landings are bulldozed flats that are 1/2-acre to up to two-acre openings.

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Kelly Gulch A Spur “Existing” Road

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Same “road” look close for 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 Knob Timber Sale, and then recently in opposition to the Little Cronan Timber Sale.  The agency is calling the trail an “existing” road, and now proposes to open the Garden Gulch trail, which is adjacent to a creek, to 18-wheeler logging trucks, bulldozers and other 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, Unit 345, contains hundreds of big older trees, many of which are still very alive and green. It provides a vital link for wildlife connectivity and exemplifies high quality mixed conifer post-fire habitat.  The area burned at moderate to low severity contributing to the ecological quality of this ideal post-fire forest stand.  These trees are providing shade and valuable wildlife habitat, creating a healthy complex forest structure, all part of a natural process. Bulldozers, trucks, roads and landings do not belong on this trail or in this showcase post-fire habitat forest stand.

Southern Boundary next to the Garden Gulch Trail

Southern Boundary next to the Garden Gulch Trail

There are five Northern Spotted Owl (NSO) home ranges 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 poor decisions that threaten our public lands.

Take Action Today to Stop the Salmon River Salvage Project! Let Patricia Grantham, Forest Supervisor of Klamath National Forest 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.


Connecting Wild Places

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014
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Journey LOGO selected finalSign the petition to Protect and Connect Wild Places!

How much more evidence do we need until entrusted representatives and forest, wildlife and water managers work together to change the direction of this crisis we are in? How many decades do we need to learn the same lessons? We can and we must act now to protect and connect wild places!

Conserving and connecting habitat is the number one goal of the National Fish, Animal and Plants Climate Adaption Strategy, “Sustaining a diversity of healthy populations over time requires conserving a sufficient variety and amount of habitat and building a well-connected network of conservation areas to allow the movement of species in response to climate change.” Establishing wildlife corridors and linkages that are providing vital habitat connectivity is key to species survival and should be a priority.

With 25 National Park units, 18 national forests, more than 15 million acres of Bureau of Land Management lands and 270 state parks and beaches California offers an amazing opportunity to establish an interconnected intact landscape, especially in the Pacific Northwest. Roadless areas, rivers and ridges linking wilderness and core habitat areas, not only provide for wildlife but are also a key to clean water and air in this rapidly changing climate.

Our forest ecosystems of are astoundingly beautiful and globally significant.  They serve as massive carbon banks and are refuge for increasingly rare plants and animals.  California is the wildlife state with unparalleled biological diversity. We have more species and endemic species than any other state in the nation. Alarmingly, according to the CA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife’s 2011 Special Animals List, the majority of our wildlife needs help: 88% of amphibians, 87% of native fish, two out of three mammals, and nearly half of all birds and reptiles are “at risk.” This decline of wildlife is indicative of the failing health of our ecosystems, of which we depend.

Logging, grazing, agriculture and multiple other stressors continuously threaten our watersheds and come with devastating ecological costs. It is time for change. California will soon be welcoming wolves and they need room to roam. We need wild places. Tell your entrusted leaders to Protect and Connect Wild Places now!

Our goal is to reach 10,000 signatures by June 1st and >50,000 signatures by the 50th Anniversary on the Wilderness Act on September 3rd. Please sign the petition and share with your friends and family.

The petition will go to:

  • President Obama
  • Secretary of the Interior- Sally Jewell
  • Secretary of Agriculture
  • Chief of the Forest Service- Tom Tidwell
  • Chief of Bureau of Land Management
  • US Fish and Wildlife
  • California US Forest Service Supervisors
  • CA Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • CA Fish and Games Commissioners
  • All of the CA House of Representatives and Senate
  • Governor Brown
  • Others TBD

Links for additional resources:


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

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013
By
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.

Photo#2

“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.

 


Aerial Tour of Summer 2013 Fires

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013
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Aerial Tour of Summer 2013 Fires

In September, as Public Land Advocate for EPIC, I was provided the opportunity to do an aerial tour of this summer’s wildfires.  As with most fires in Northern California, a majority of the fire areas burned at low and moderate severity.  Over 50 miles of bulldozer lines were constructed and estimated costs for suppression efforts reached up to one million dollars per day.  EPIC advocates for appropriate land management in order to restore fire on the landscape and to protect communities rather than continuing the expensive chaotic military style of fire suppression.

There are always lessons to learn after an active fire season.  This year, local river communities and tribes worked closely with fire and Forest Service personnel, unlike years past.  These small changes over time may one day find us well-prepared and ready to welcome fire.  (All photos courtesy of Kimberly Baker, unless otherwise noted.)

Salmon River Complex

SalmonRiver

Salmon River Panoramic: Butler Fire on left, Forks Fire on right – photo courtesy of Thomas Dunklin

Butler

The human caused Butler Fire on the main stem Salmon River reached over 22,000 acres and burned for nearly two months.  The estimated cost for suppression was $36,000,000.  Approximately 27 miles of bulldozer lines and approximately 10 miles of hand fire lines were constructed.

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Surrounding Butler Flat – Photo courtesy of Thomas Dunklin

 

Overview of mosaic burn patterns

Overview of mosaic burn patterns

 

Fire line near Orleans Mt. summit - Photo courtesy of Kimberly Baker

Fire line near Orleans Mt. summit

 

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Fire line Somes Mt. summit

 

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Extensive 5 mile bulldozer line on Hotelling Ridge

 

Forks (North Fork)

The human caused North Fork Salmon River Fire reached nearly 15,000 acres.  It burned for the month of August with suppression costs of $23,000,000.  Over 8 miles of hand fire lines were constructed as well as over 5 miles of bulldozer lines. Overall, a vast majority, 10,658 acres of the fire burned at low severity, 3,250 at moderate and 802 acres burned at high severity.

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Complete overview North Fork Fire – Photo courtesy of Thomas Dunklin

 

Downstream Forks Fire - Photo courtesy of Kimberly Baker

Downstream Forks Fire

 

Fire line burnout - Photo Courtesy of Kimberly Baker

Fire line burnout

 

 Dance Fire

The Dance Fire in the town of Orleans reached 650 acres and burned for nearly a week.  Tragically a home belonging to a Karuk elder was completely lost.

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Dance Fire

 

Corral

The naturally ignited Corral Fire outside the Hoopa Valley and Willow Creek burned entirely within the Trinity Alps Wilderness.  The fire reached over 12,000 acres and burned for nearly two months. Approximately 21 miles of bulldozer line was constructed and approximately 18 miles of hand fire line was constructed.

Trinity Alps Wilderness

Corral Fire in Trinity Alps Wilderness

 

Corral fire with Megram Fire of 1999 in background

Corral Fire with Megram Fire of 1999 in background

 

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Mosaic burn patterns

 

Mosaic burn patterns

Mosaic burn patterns

 

Corral Fire lines

Corral Fire lines

 

Bulldozed fire line

Bulldozed fire line

The Dance, Butler and Salmon Fires were all intentionally set. There is a $20 000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for starting the Salmon River Complex and Butler Fires. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Arson Tip Line at 1-800-842-4408.


Wildlands Civics as an Expression of the EPIC Mission

Sunday, October 13th, 2013
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Caribou Fire Salvage Sale: these four foot snags were saved by EPIC.

Caribou Fire Salvage Sale: these four foot snags were saved by EPIC.

A recurring theme in all of the work that EPIC develops, to advance protections for the web of life in Northwest California, is the concept of environmental democracy. Whether it be advocating for an increased inclusion of stewardship land ethics in natural resource based economic sectors in our bioregion, challenging state agencies to do adequate review of the major infrastructure projects that are proposed in sensitive landscapes, or leveraging the online activism of our supporters to secure conservation oriented management regimes on our public lands, EPIC strives to be a conduit for meaningful public participation by our community on the issues that can have an impact on our rural lives. Environmental democracy is one way to describe the involvement of the citizenry in these crucial processes around natural resource exploitation on the North Coast—our team at EPIC also refers to our authentic grassroots activism as an expression of “Wildlands Civics.”

The idea of Wildlands Civics is captured in the mission statement of EPIC. Ancient forests, watersheds, endangered species; these elements of the biosphere are all included in our mission. EPIC has a far-reaching objective to protect natural and human communities on the North Coast of California. To understand how the concept of Wildlands Civics influences the development of EPIC advocacy strategies it can help to look further at the mission of EPIC: EPIC uses an integrated, science-based approach, combining public education, citizen advocacy, and strategic litigation.

Breaking these elements down further illuminates how the active participation of EPIC and our base of supporters in a multitude of public decision-making processes is in its purest form a practice of civics with the overarching intent of protecting the wildlands that provide habitat for wildlife and essential environmental services for human kind—hence, Wildlands Civics.

Public Education

Any effort to mobilize and galvanize the public to engage on a particular issue requires a concentrated effort at Public Education. As an example, the Public Lands Program at EPIC has a long-term conservation advocacy vision of Returning a Natural Cycle of Fire to Our Landscapes. Clearly, the best contemporary science shows that fire plays an essential role in the maintenance of a healthy forested landscape, yet there are major impediments to achieving a reestablishment of natural patterns of wild fire disturbance regimes across Northwest California. As our organization engaged with land managers and stakeholders on this issue we knew immediately that informing California residents about the benefits of wildfire would take some degree of Public Education to ensure that our goals regarding fire would be understood, and to get people involved in a proactive manner with the issue. The evolution in the policy discourse around wildfire is resulting in an increased understanding by the public that fire is as natural, though less frequent, than rain in our diverse North Coast forests. This is an encouraging sigh that our public education efforts at EPIC are contributing in a positive way to a broad movement of diverse stakeholders that aspires to change the way our society perceives our relationship to the land and the natural processes that provide for ecological resilience and the maintenance of biodiversity.

Citizen Advocacy

EPIC was formed in 1977, and technology has changed a great deal since the founding of the organization. This change in technology has spurned an increase in the ability of public interest advocacy organizations like EPIC to provide a means to gain standing in a public process, and to provide comments to address shortcomings and inadequacies in project design and environmental review. A substantial amount of EPIC’s practice of Wildlands Civics is built around proven methodologies of forest watch and agency monitoring, in which systematic attention is paid to the process by which projects are announced and how documentation concerning economic activities is presented to the public. Wildlands Civics is in this way predicated on the tactics of an environmental watchdog group, and the mobilization of a concerned constituency of local, state, and national residents who stand behind our organization’s policy positions provides EPIC the leverage to be an effective guardian of your wild backyard. Another important aspect of Citizen Advocacy is that some of the most severe threats to landscape integrity in our bioregion, such as egregious cannabis agriculture operations, are still outside of the purview of regulating agencies. By getting the public involved on complex and unorthodox issues we can create a vocabulary that describes the standards of sustainability that our landscapes require of us, and through Citizen Advocacy EPIC can participate in the community drive to find workable solutions to complex challenges.

Strategic Litigation

Even as global alarm bells are ringing with an increasing urgency, many environmentally harmful projects and economically unsustainable natural resource exploitation schemes are approved by government agencies across our region. In some instances, well thought out and strategic litigation is necessary to protect public trust resources and the rights of the citizenry to have influence over how our tax dollars are spent. A citizens organization only has the right to litigate after having established standing through early participation in a decision making process. Public interest litigation is an action of last recourse, when the concerns of the public have been disregarded after a long process, and is enshrined in our laws as a justified exercise of our democratic rights. EPIC has a well-earned reputation for cutting edge and strategic litigation that can shape the content of public policy for decades to come. Our organizations successful actions before the courts in order to protect our communities and rare environments is an authentic expression of EPIC’s effective mission and expertise in Wildlands Civics.


Take Action: Bulldozers in the Trinity Alps Wilderness

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013
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CoralComplex

Take Action Now. The Corral Fire was started by lightning on August 10 in the Trinity Alps Wilderness and has reached over 4,000 acres.   The fire is currently less than a mile away from the Hoopa Reservation. The Six Rivers National Forest Supervisor in conjunction with the Hoopa Tribe have been granted permission from the Regional Forest Service Office to use bulldozers and heavy equipment within the wilderness to clear ridgetops and trails to create “fuelbreaks” or “firelines” in hopes of stopping the fire before it reaches the reservation.

Ridgetop fuelbreaks are often unsuccessful at stopping fires depending on weather and topography.  According to the Inciweb website there are currently seven bulldozers working around the fire area.  Up to 5 miles may be cleared, using a variety of treatments in different areas.  For instance, some of the firelines are on old decommissioned roads that are currently on the trail system.  Other firelines are just outside of the wilderness boundary on the Six Rivers National Forest.

While protecting life and homes is always a priority, there has got to be a better way.  Dozerlines in the wilderness will scar the landscape for decades, increasing habitat fragmentation, damaging soils and seriously spoiling wilderness characteristics.  Fire ignited by lightening in our forest ecosystems is as natural as life itself and post-fire landscapes are among the most rare and biologically rich landscapes existing.

Please click here to urge Regional Forester Moore to apply Minimum Impact Suppression Tactics (MIST) or call him at 707-562-9000.  Let him know you will be watching closely at what is happening in the Trinity Alps and that you greatly value landscapes affected by fire.  Voice your support for allowing fire to play its role, especially in the wilderness which is supposed to be safeguarded and untrammeled by mankind.

corral8_18

 


EPIC Collaborates to Improve Wildfire Management

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013
By
Moonlight_Fire2007

Moonlight Fire 2007

The Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) monitors activities on more than 5 million acres of federally owned public land in Northwest California. We caught up with Kimberly Baker, EPIC’s Public Land Advocate, between one of her many trips to our National Forests to check on projects, as well as attend meetings to continue ongoing conversations with the Forest Service, diverse stakeholders, and conservation partners about the management of our public lands. The issue of wildfire is without question one of the “hottest topics” that Kimberly is engaged on, and we recently asked her a few questions about how EPIC is taking a proactive stance as a stakeholder with a strong local constituency that is invested in the promotion of long term ecosystem health on our region’s national forests.

Kimberly, you have been traveling lately to represent EPIC in new stakeholder processes concerning wildfire management on National Forests in Northern California. Describe the different endeavors that you are taking part in.

EPIC has been invited to be on the design team of FireScape Mendocino. It is a collaborative approach that will look at natural resource management in order to develop resilient, fire-adapted communities and ecosystems across the landscape. The Upslope Working Group on the Klamath and Six Rivers National Forests is doing the same. Both groups are being facilitated by the Fire Learning Network, an organization that has been successful in developing these grand collaborative visions all over the country.

The Shasta-Trinity National Forest will be convening an interactive meeting to discuss “Continuous Improvement in Wildfire Management.”  This will not be facilitated by the FLN, nor is this a long-term planning process — but it is a continuation of similar meetings that have been held annually over the last three years.

Who are the other stakeholders in these processes, and how do participants actually engage with each other?

There is a long list of stakeholders including Native Tribes, local FireSafe councils, US Forest Service staff, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the local counties, which are represented by various Resource Conservation District representatives. As well, there are representatives from the timber industry and other conservation groups, on the Mendocino the Blue Ribbon Coalition, as well as various agencies and local community members.

The FLN facilitated groups have well established ground rules. We are here to find common ground, albeit not to avoid discussion of dissenting view points respectfully. Humor is often used in place of anger or disagreement.

What is at stake in these sorts of engagements? You have been involved with similar processes in the past, what makes this round of stakeholder talks different from what you have experienced previously?

The future of our forests is at stake here. We are talking essentially about how to treat and manage thousands of acres of Northwest California forestlands, all of which are ecosystems that to one degree or another have evolved naturally to need fire for maintaining resiliency and health. What makes this different is that the plans coming out of this process will entail only those actions that people can agree upon.

How much disagreement exists in this broad stakeholder group about the importance of wildfire in maintaining forest ecosystem health in Northwest California?

As far as letting fire maintain landscapes in the long run, I do not believe there is much disagreement. However, how we get there is another question. There is no doubt that creating a more fire resilient landscape is going to require a lot of time, work, planning, and money. The idea is to start where there is agreement, which is yet to be determined.

EPIC has a reputation for challenging bad projects, but you also do a lot of monitoring of the implementation of projects. Are there concerns that you have identified in project implementation that will be addressed in these stakeholder conversations?

The EPIC stance upfront is that timber sales are not the way to establish fire safe communities, or to steward for fire resilient forests. Effective treatments must retain canopy and large fire resistant trees. Thinning previous clearcuts and small diameter trees could attain potential commercial gain; EPIC believes that treating plantations is one key area to focus on.

What can folks expect to see happen this summer around wildfire, and how can we be attentive both to the needs of rural residents as well as a forest ecosystem in which fire may be less frequent, but is clearly as natural as rain?

The fact is preparing a defensible space around homes and communities is the best way to protect life and property.

Unfortunately, as far as fire goes this summer, we can expect to see the same military style of fire suppression as seen from recent years, such as bulldozing miles of ridge tops, cutting snag habitat, and high severity back burning, followed by subsequent post-fire logging proposals like this years Mill and Stafford Fire projects, which are clearly destructive and unsustainable. These are the reasons EPIC is dedicated to finding a better way.

 

 


Act Now to Stop Destructive Post-Fire “Salvage” Logging on the Mendocino National Forest

Thursday, March 14th, 2013
By
Dozerline backburn on the Southern end of Mill fire.  Credit Reuben/Feather River Hotshots

Dozerline backburn on the Southern end of Mill fire. Credit Reuben/Feather River Hotshots

Mill Fire Project

Update 3/14/13

The Mendocino National Forest has released an Environmental Analysis for post-fire logging on 985 acres in the Mill fire area, outside of the town of Stonyford.  Public comment is due by March 25thPlease Act Now to stand up for forests, wildlife and watersheds.

Although a vast majority of the forest marked as timber sale units actually burned at moderate and low severity, with many live trees remaining within these stands, the agency claims the stands are in a “deforested condition” and are not functioning “normally.”  This claim is used to justify removing most of the trees in the units, including live green trees, totaling nearly 1000 acres of ecologically unnecessary post-fire salvage logging.

The Emergency Situation Determination (ESD) that the Mendocino planners are seeking streamlines environmental review, reduces public recourse, and would allow logging to begin immediately after a Decision by the Forest Supervisor despite an appeal or pending lawsuit. Now is the time for the public to speak up and voice their opposition to this undemocratic decision making process.

It is clear that timber volume is driving this project running over ecology and the best available science.  One statement made in the ESD letter after land managers met with timber industry representatives:  “It was concluded that the sale would need to contain enough volume to cover move in move out costs of logging operations as well as high haul cost from this remote area of the forest.”

The project is within the Blue Slides Late Successional Reserve (LSR). The reserves are set aside to preserve old growth forest and species like the Northern Spotted Owl that depend on big old trees for survival. Damaged and dead trees (snags) are important structural components of late-successional forests and are key habitat for numerous species. They provide forage, cavities for nesting and protection, perch sites, and den sites. Large snags are considered to be one of the distinctive features of an old-growth forest.

Fire and tree mortality are natural elements in a forest ecosystem.  Logging of large snags does not contribute to recovery of forest habitat; in fact, the only activity more antithetical to the recovery process would be removal of surviving green trees from burned sites, which the Mendocino timber planners are proposing to do in this project. Much of the area is already naturally regenerating.  Logging with ground based equipment such as tractors and bulldozers on fragile soils will inhibit and kill natural growth.

Post-fire landscapes and snag forests are alive and vibrant. They are more biologically diverse than unburned forest, and provide for an array of plant and animal species. Post-fire landscapes are considered to be one of the most rare, endangered, and ecologically important forest habitat types in western U.S. forests, and the stand-transforming fires that create this habitat are not damaging the forest ecosystem. Rather, they are advancing ecological restoration.

Act now to protect your public lands!  Please ask Mendocino National Forest to cancel destructive post-fire logging within the Blue Slides LSR.

Update 1/8/13

The Mendocino National Forest is proposing to streamline more than 250 acres of post-fire logging.  The 30,000 acre Mill Fire burned outside the town of Stoneyford and within the Blue Slides Late Successional Reserve (LSR).  The reserves are set aside to preserve old growth forest and the species that depend on big old trees for survival.

A majority of these forest stands had a moderate severity burn with many green trees unaffected.  In fact, less than 10% of the fire area burned at high severity.  Much of the area is already naturally regenerating.

Mendocino National Forest planners are seeking to undermine and ignore meaningful environmental analysis, and declare an “emergency” that would allow logging to begin immediately after a decision by the Forest Supervisor despite an appeal or pending lawsuit.

Please ask Mendocino National Forest Supervisor and timber planners to cancel destructive post fire logging within the Blue Slides LSR.

 

North Pass Fire Project

Update 3/14/13: You made a difference!

A step in the right direction.

The North Pass post-fire logging project was recently rescinded due to serious watershed concerns.  The canceled 900-acre project area was proposed within the Wild and Scenic Middle Fork Eel River, a key watershed that is critical for salmon recovery.  This watershed is also listed as being “impaired” under the Clean Water Act.

Due to the destructive effects of logging activities on fragile post-fire soils, in combination with the documented negative effects from the fire suppression activities such as “backburns” or “burnouts,” along with the excessive firelines created by bulldozers, the proposed salvage-logging project was predicted to increase sediment and disturb soils to an unacceptable level.  In short, it would have choked streams and harmed Steelhead trout and Salmon.

Mendocino land managers also received a flood of concerns from EPIC’s last Action Alert.  Thanks to all of you who took action! Your taking action makes a difference in protecting your public lands!

While it is not clear that land managers will totally abandon the idea of logging the fire area, they have indicated that future plans may be significantly reduced to focus on roadside cutting.

Your actions make a difference—take action on the Mill Fire salvage-logging project today! 


Update  3/7/13: Thanks to your participation, this proposal has been withdrawn.

The Mendocino National Forest is proposing two post-fire logging sales.  One is the Mill Fire project detailed above and the other is the North Pass Fire “Salvage” logging timber sale.

According to the September 25, 2012 Burned Area Report for the North Pass Fire lasted for 24 days and burned 31,050 acres on the Mendocino National Forest of which 21,693 acres were low severity, 8502 acres were moderate and only 855 acres burned at high severity (<3% of the fire area).  The Forest Service’s fire supression tactics created 46 miles of fireline and 79.35 miles of National Forest roads utilized during fire suppression efforts.

The proposed project would tractor and cable log within snag forest habitat on approximately 300 acres of Northern Spotted Owl Critical Habitat within Matrix and Riparian Reserve allocations and would subsequently damage natural regeneration and establish highly flammable plantations.  The project is within the Wild and Scenic Middle Fork Eel River Tier 1 Key Watershed.  The project proposes- to construct .5 miles of new “temporary” road, 3 miles of road maintenance and log hauling.

Please  let the Mendocino NF know that you value post-fire habitat, and ask them to stop ill-conceived plans to clearcut our forests.


Help Stop More Post-Fire Salvage Logging Proposed on the Mendocino National Forest

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013
By

UPDATE 3/7/13: Thanks to your participation, this proposal has been withdrawn.  For more information visit our Returning to a Natural Cycle of Wildfire page.

Click Here to Take Action Now! kp0829_Cut3The Mendocino National Forest (NF) is proposing another post-fire “salvage” timber sale, covering 300 acres in the Wild and Scenic Middle Fork Eel River, a key watershed that is critical for salmon recovery.  Several units of the project are proposed right against the border of recently designated wilderness.

The 31,050 acre North Pass Fire burned 21,693 acres at low severity, and only 855 acres at high severity, making up less than 3% of the total fire area.  The North Pass Fire burned as fire is supposed to do; it was a totally natural event. Nevertheless, there were 46 miles of fireline constructed during suppression efforts, most often done with bulldozers, a highly impactful means of responding to a disturbance cycle that is as natural as rain in Northern California forests.

The proposed project would log snag forest stands within Northern Spotted Owl Critical Habitat, while damaging natural regeneration and recovery.  Subsequent replanting would establish highly flammable plantations. 

Your voice makes a difference!  Let the Mendocino NF know that you value post-fire habitat, and ask them to stop ill-conceived plans to clearcut our forests.

Good News on the Klamath NF!

Public Input Works.  By taking action late last year with EPIC to oppose salvage logging proposed after last summer’s Goff Fire in the Klamath NF near the Oregon border, you have saved wild forests from unnecessary and damaging post-fire logging. The Klamath National Forest has cancelled plans to heavily log the Kangaroo Roadless Area! The Forest Service changed course because-

1) Helicopter logging was not economically viable;

2) Klamath NF Fire staff said that post-fire logging would not improve firefighter or community safety; and

3) the Forest Service had heard from enough people that value the Kangaroo Roadless Area to realized there was nothing collaborative about a “salvage” proposal.

Now, land mangers will be concentrating on fuels reduction 500 feet around private properties and roadside hazard tree logging. Because a formal proposal is not yet finalized, EPIC will continue to follow the Klamath National Forest post-fire projects related to the Goff fire closely.

Your participation makes a difference! Take action today to oppose the North Pass post-fire logging proposal on the Mendocino National Forest! Your voice helps restore a natural cycle of wildfire to the landscape!

To learn more about post-fire “salvage” logging click here.


Action Alert: Protect Mendocino National Forest from Destructive Post-Fire Logging

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012
By

Smoke from burnout. July 10, 2012. Credit: Steve Clark, USFS, NorCal Team II

Take Action Now!  The U.S. Forest Service is proposing to conduct damaging “salvage logging” on  the Mendocino National Forest in an area affected by the 2012 Mill Fire.  This logging is planned to take place within the Blue Slides Late Successional Reserve (LSR) and designated Spotted Owl critical habitat.  Under the Northwest Forest Plan, the LSRs are supposed to be managed to promote old growth forest characteristics and the species that depend on big old trees for survival.  Damaged and dead trees (snags) are important structural components of late-successional forests and are key habitat for numerous species, especially Spotted Owls and Pacific Fisher.  Indeed, snags and downed wood have been found by leading researchers to be critical for numerous species and the integrity of old-growth forests.  They provide forage, cavities for nesting and protection, perch sites, and den sites. Large snags are considered to be one of the distinctive features of an old-growth forest.

Fire and tree mortality are natural elements in a forest ecosystem.  Logging of large snags does not contribute to recovery of forest habitat, but instead is one of the most damaging forms of logging that can take place.  In addition to removing legacy snags and old-growth components, the U.S. Forest Service is also proposing to arrest the natural recovery process by removing numerous living trees that have survived the fire.  Much of the area is already naturally regenerating.  Logging with ground based equipment such as tractors and bulldozers on fragile soils will destroy natural re-growth and exacerbate erosion and sediment deliver to waterways.

Post-fire landscapes and snag forests are alive and vibrant. They are more biologically diverse than unburned forest and provide for an array of plant and animal species. Post-fire landscapes are considered to be one of the most rare, endangered, and ecologically important forest habitat in western U.S. forests, and the stand-transforming fires that create this habitat are not damaging the forest ecosystem.  Rather, they are advancing ecological restoration and are part of the natural cycle.

Click here to learn more about the ecological consequences of salvage logging.

The Emergency Situation Determination that the U.S. Forest Service officials are seeking will have the effect of short-circuiting responsible environmental analysis and would allow logging to begin immediately after a Decision by the Forest Supervisor despite an appeal or pending lawsuit. Science indicates that post-fire logging may result in significant impacts to soils, wildlife, late successional characteristics and hydrology, which necessitate the completion of an Environmental Impact Statement.

Please ask Mendocino National Forest Supervisor and timber planners to cancel destructive post fire logging within the Blue Slides LSR and the Mill Fire area.  Tell them to leave the area alone and allow for natural recovery to occur.

Click here to view the U.S. Forest Service announcement and project documents.


Help Stop “Salvage” Logging in the Kangaroo Roadless Area

Sunday, November 25th, 2012
By

UPDATE: January 30, 2013

Public Input Works. By taking action late last year with EPIC to oppose salvage logging proposed after last summer’s Goff Fire in the Klamath NF near the Oregon border, you have saved wild forests from unnecessary and damaging post-fire logging. The Klamath National Forest has cancelled plans to heavily log the Kangaroo Roadless Area! The Forest Service changed course because-

Goff Fire

 

1) Helicopter logging was not economically viable;

 

2) Klamath NF Fire staff said that post-fire logging would not improve firefighter or community safety; and

3) the Forest Service had heard from enough people that value the Kangaroo Roadless Area to realize there was nothing collaborative about a “salvage” proposal.

Now, land/ mangers will be concentrating on fuels reduction 500 feet around private properties and roadside hazard tree logging. Because a formal proposal is not yet finalized, EPIC will continue to follow the Klamath National Forest post-fire projects related to the Goff fire closely.

November 25, 2012

Click here to take Action! The Kangaroo Roadless Area outside the Red Buttes Wilderness is in danger.  This backcountry forest is one of the largest intact wild lands in California.  It provides critical connectivity for wildlife and is a virtual hotspot for biodiversity and endemic species.  It hosts waterfalls, high mountain meadows, lush old-growth forests, endless wildflowers and amazing vistas from the Pacific Crest Trail.

This summer the 22,000 acre Goff Fire burned exquisitely with a vast majority of the flames burning low to the ground cleaning the forest floor in its path. Now that the smoke has cleared, the Klamath National Forest is considering helicopter logging the biggest old-growth snags (burned trees) in the name of “forest health”.

Please Act Now and tell the Klamath National Forest to forgo logging in backcountry roadless areas and that you value rare and biologically rich post-fire habitats.

 


Clearcutting Triggers Hotter Fires and Reduces Water Supplies

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012
By

State Regulators Ignore the Best Available Science

The dry season is upon us and the likelihood of forest fires will grow while our creeks and rivers drop ever lower.  The potential for forest fires coupled with the paucity of water presents serious concerns to natural and human communities alike.  Recent events across the country and within California have us wondering: What are the impacts of the industrial forestry model of clearcutting and dense, mono-culture tree plantations on fire behavior and water availability?

The best available science shows that young, dense tree plantations are prone to higher severity fire than comparable natural forests with older trees and greater ecological complexity.  A recent study out of the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station (Miller et al 2012) clearly shows that tree plantations are prone to high severity, stand replacing fires.  These findings are consistent with other research implicating tree plantations as tinder boxes.  This contrasts sharply with low and moderate severity fire behavior generally displayed within natural forests on public lands with older trees and complex structure.

Similarly, intensive industrial forestry is simply not compatible with the conservation of water resources.  Many municipalities that source their water supply from forested watersheds have protected them from damaging logging practices.  Portland, Oregon and New York City are two examples where a century of foresight to protect forested watersheds yields a reliable supply of clean water.  In California, numerous watersheds throughout the Sierra Nevada, Cascades, Trinity Alps and Klamath Mountains provide water to millions of people, agriculture and diverse ecosystems.  While some of the watersheds are protected in national forests, millions of acres are in private hands and much of that is extensively clearcut.  Natural forests with older trees provide reliable, clean water supplies because they shade the ground and contain complex aquatic habitat and pools.  In contrast, industrial forestry landscapes are often devoid of any vegetation or contain simplified plantations that do not provide the same benefits for water supplies.

Additionally, recent research has uncovered a critical variable that is often overlooked.  Stubblefield et al (2012) compared overall water usage by young, dense Douglas-fir tree plantations versus older, natural forests in the Mattole River watershed.  The study concludes that tree plantations use more water than older forests, adding an additional indictment of the industrial forestry model.

Meanwhile, California’s regulations for private industrial forestlands continually fail to account for these threats.  California’s Forest Practice Rules allow intensive clearcutting across entire watersheds.  The specter of past, ongoing, and foreseeable cumulative impacts resulting from a century and a half of logging continues to threaten endangered fish and wildlife species.  The best available science implicates the lack of adequate state-level regulations to prevent significant adverse cumulative impacts to our forests and water resources.

In the midst of this ongoing crisis, California’s regulators are completely disconnected from realities on the ground.  Even worse, current proposals do nothing to address the ongoing threats posed by industrial forestry.  Governor Brown has proposed private timber-related items that are nothing more than industry giveaways.  The Governor wants to institute a cap on liability stemming from damages caused by forest fires in response to the federal prosecution of Sierra Pacific Industries for the Moonlight fire. Such meddling in long established law would undermine the ability of the public to recover costs and restore landscapes damaged by the negligence of private logging operations.  Most baffling, the Governor also proposes a new consumer tax on lumber that would be used to fund regulatory agencies’ review of private timber harvest plans.  The proposed tax would give the timber industry the ability to freely pass the cost of public trust analysis onto the consumer.  This approach provides no incentive to engage in sustainable, selection forestry, but instead allows business as usual for those large industrial landowners that clearcut forests across California.  Instead, a progressive fee-based program should be created that promotes good practices.  Damaging logging plans that include clearcutting require more intensive review by state agencies, and therefore should be more expensive to permit.  Genuine stewardship of California’s forests and water resources by landowners should be rewarded with reduced fees for selection forestry.  Holding the timber industry accountable for the damage they have wrought on our natural landscapes and human communities is imperative for charting a new path forward to restore California’s forests.


Caribou Fire Project

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011
By

Caribou Fire
The Caribou Fire area on the Wild and Scenic South Fork Salmon River on the Klamath National Forest was logged the past few summers.  EPIC was able to get some of the best snag habitat saved for wildlife.  The Forest Service’s environmental analysis (EA) was replete with “Project Design Features” and “Best Management Practices” that were put in place to protect fisheries, hydrology, soils and wildlife.  However, after on-the-ground monitoring we discovered multiple inconsistencies between the EA and what is actually happening on the ground.

Countless mitigations were ignored.  The Forest Service severely failed to meet their promises, surveys for threatened and sensitive species were not completed, most all of the largest snags and large logs that were to remain standing or within the logged areas were removed, all of the hardwood snags were removed and sold as firewood, despite the requirement for it to remain on the landscape, riparian areas were logged and much of the work took place during rainy weather.

We were extremely disappointed to discover the broad swath of disparity separating the Caribou Project description from the reality of what actually has occurred in this Key watershed that, is critical for Salmon recovery.  Further, this project cost over $1.6 million dollars to plan, the contractor paid a less than $50,000 and did not make a profit, leaving taxpayers holding the bill for the destruction of their national forest.

To add insult to injury the Klamath National Forest is not being held accountable.  There is no recourse that can come to them aside from your public outcry.

Caribou Pre-Salvage

Caribou Pre-Salvage

Snags in Riparian Reserve.
Caribou Pre-Salvage

Caribou Pre-Salvage

Post-fire recovery in the Caribou.
Caribou Pre-Salvage

Caribou Pre-Salvage

Large snag marked for cut in the Caribou Salvage sale.
Caribou Pre-Salvage

Caribou Pre-Salvage

Two large snags marked to be cut alongside a recovering creek.
Caribou Pre-Salvage

Caribou Pre-Salvage

Native plants and insects return to burnt landscapes following fire.
Caribou Pre-Salvage

Caribou Pre-Salvage

Native birds such as this woodpecker take advantage of the post-fire landscape.
Caribou Pre-Salvage

Caribou Pre-Salvage

Seasonal ponds form in depressions caused by bears wallowing (rolling around) in the soil.
Caribou Pre-Salvage

Caribou Pre-Salvage

Caribou post-fire, pre-salvage logging implementation: Unit 8 and large snags
Caribou Pre-Salvage

Caribou Pre-Salvage

Caribou post-fire, pre-salvage logging implementation: Unit 8 and large snags
Caribou Pre-Salvage

Caribou Pre-Salvage

These four foot snags were saved by EPIC.
Caribou Post-Salvage

Caribou Post-Salvage

Post Salvage Logging: the hillsides along Caribou have been ravaged.
Caribou Post-Salvage

Caribou Post-Salvage

Unit 10 of the Caribou Salvage Sale. The hillside is left barren and desolate.
Caribou Post-Salvage

Caribou Post-Salvage

Post-Salavage Logging of Caribou's Unit 8.
Caribou Post-Salvage

Caribou Post-Salvage

Logging equipment leaking oil and fuel into the ground.
Caribou Post-Salvage

Caribou Post-Salvage

The non-merchantable timber is culled, rejected, and left to waste on the log landing.
Caribou Post-Salvage

Caribou Post-Salvage

Unit 10: the hillside is left barren and desolate.


				

Buck Mountain Action Alert!

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011
By

The Six Rivers National Forest has planned another logging project disguised as fuels treatment within an old growth habitat reserve in the Mad River Ranger District, called the Buck Mountain Vegetation and Fuels Management Project.  The project proposes to commercially log 613 acres of natural forest stands up to 130 years old, construct and reconstruct up to 6 miles of “temporary” roads, log in riparian reserves (stream sides) and in Nesting habitat for the Northern Spotted Owl.

The project also proposes over 1,000 acres of fuels reduction.  EPIC supports small-diameter thinning of fire-suppressed forests, particularly tree plantations and forests prone to uncharacteristic wildfire near homes and communities; however, we do not support old growth logging masquerading as fire-risk reduction.  We know that you also value these irreplaceable resources on our National Forests and will do what it takes to protect them.

Please take a moment to email the Mad River Ranger District to let them know that they must remove elements of the project that threaten mature, large trees near streams, especially in areas reserved for old growth forest structure and regeneration. To take action now, click here.

The proposed project:

If approved, the Buck Mountain project would commercially harvest over 600 acres of natural forest stands up to 130 years old, construct over two miles of new temporary roads, reconstruct nearly four miles of existing roads, log near streams and in Nesting habitat for the Northern Spotted Owl.  Potential harvest is approximated at about five million board feet.  The Buck Mountain Vegetation and Fuel Management Project includes activities within the Eel River Late Successional Reserve (LSR), just south of Dinsmore, California. LSRs were set aside to provide habitat for animals that depend on old growth forest structure. 

The project also proposes thinning almost 400 acres of plantations (past clearcuts), 44 acres of oak restoration, almost 800 acres of non-commercial activity and over 1200 acres of non-commercial fuels treatment.  EPIC supports small-diameter thinning of fire-suppressed forests, particularly tree plantations and forests prone to uncharacteristic wildfire near homes and communities. So, while we stand firmly against the destructive elements of this proposed project, we do support the aspects that will accomplish the goal of fire risk reduction. In addition, we are deeply concerned about the Forest Service’s continued reliance on misleading rhetoric, including logging mature large trees in the name of “fuels reduction” and forest health.

Too often the Forest Service plans proposals that threaten old growth trees but are disguised as fire risk reduction projects. The business as usual attitude to “get the volume out” and reach timber targets by calling commercial timber sales “fuels reduction projects” and “restoration projects” must end. Only a tiny percentage of irreplaceable, old growth forests remain standing. Please let the Six Rivers National Forest know that you do not support logging older forests, especially near streams and in nesting habitat for Threatened species.

Take Action Now! CLICK HERE to send a letter to protect Buck Mountain.


Panther Fire Salvage Project

Friday, February 12th, 2010
By
DSC09000

Shep is looking down a steep hill within a proposed unit of the Panther Salvage project just above Norcross campground.

1/8/13 EPIC fought the Panther Fire “Salvage” Timber Sale all the way to the 9th Circuit Court of Law in Sacramento, but despite our best effort logging moved forward.

The Panther Fire started from a lightning storm in July 2008.   A combination of topography and weather resulted in a run that engulfed 13,000 acres, in a single day, October 1st.

The Happy Camp District of the Klamath National Forest logged 254 acres of steep post-fire hillsides within the Elk Creek watershed.  Elk Creek is listed as impaired under the Clean Water Act and is also a Key Watershed, which is critical habitat for salmon recovery.  Despite the impaired nature, the creek is home to Coho and Chinook salmon, steelhead, resident trout and the Pacific lamprey.  All of these species rely on the streams within Elk Creek for all life stages (migration, spawning, incubation, rearing, and holding).  The Elk Creek Watershed is extremely sensitive to disturbance and has been affected by too many roads and intensive timber harvest.

Logging took place in Late Successional Reserves, areas set aside to protect and enhance old growth forest structure and species; in Riparian Reserves, waterways and unstable areas and within Recreational River boundaries.

The Panther post-fire logging project is within Critical Habitat for the Northern Spotted Owl a species listed as “Threatened”  under the federal Endangered Species Act. There is overwhelming scientific evidence that northern spotted owls roost and forage in post-fire habitats, and owl territories with severely burned stands in the Panther fire area may continue to be occupied by owls.  Fire-killed trees provide perch sites and future nest sites.  Recent scientific evidence found that survival and reproduction depended upon significant patches of high severity post-fire habitat because it is suitable for a key prey species, the Dusky-footed wood rat.  This habitat is not mimicked by logging as proposed by the Panther project, which would remove snags and prevent recruitment of large downed logs.

Forest visitors regularly use the area for many reasons including the Sulphur Springs and Norcross Campgrounds and to access the Bear Lake and Bear Creek Trailheads, the Kelsey National Recreational Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail, which lead to the Marble Mountain Wilderness.

Panther Pre-Salvage Logging

Panther Pre-Salvage Logging

Enter description
Panther Pre-Salvage Logging

Panther Pre-Salvage Logging

Large snags on steep slopes
Panther Pre-Salvage Logging

Panther Pre-Salvage Logging

Looking out into the Marbled Mountains
Panther Pre-Salvage Logging

Panther Pre-Salvage Logging

Panoramic Viewscape
Panther Post-Salvage Logging

Panther Post-Salvage Logging

Wet weather logging next to Elk Creek
Panther Post-Salvage Logging

Panther Post-Salvage Logging

Denuded hillsides
Panther Post-Salvage Logging

Panther Post-Salvage Logging

Denuded Riparian Reserves
Panther Post-Salvage Logging

Panther Post-Salvage Logging

Dedunded Riparian Reserve
Panther Post-Salvage Logging

Panther Post-Salvage Logging

Panoramic Viewscape
Panther Post-Salvage Logging

Panther Post-Salvage Logging

Rutting and erosion

 

 

6/3/10 Once again, the Klamath National Forest has proposed a heavy handed post-fire logging project in the Elk Creek watershed, amidst controversy. This project, the Panther Fire Salvage represents the third attempt the Happy Camp District has organized a sanitary-sounding plan to log within the Panther fire area. If approved, the Forest Service would give the thumbs up to log 536 acres of steep post-fire hillsides right above the Norcross campground, a popular recreational destination. The fire itself started from a natural ignition during a lightning storm in July, 2008.   A combination of topography and weather resulted in a run that engulfed 13,000 acres, in a single day, October 1st.

In the days of recovery, when soils are sensitive and young seedlings are emerging in their natural cycle, the Forest Service planned to remove large snags in what they continue to call “restoration.” This type of logging not only threatens future forest health through commercial logging on steep slopes and could impact critical habitat for decimated coho and chinook salmon,  it also could undermine the benefit of fire on this fire-dependent landscape.

Please take a moment and submit a comment letter to Patty Granthum and Ken Harris, who could turn this project around and address the critical issues within their management areas. Also, it really helps if you take the extra two minutes and customize your comments to include your personal reasons for opposing destructive post-fire salvage logging projects like this one.

Some legal reasons why this project should be stopped:

The Panther Salvage project is within the steep slopes of Elk Creek Watershed, which is listed as impaired under the Clean Water Act.  It is also a key Watershed, which is critical habitat for salmon recovery.  Despite the impaired nature, the creek is home to Coho and Chinook salmon, steelhead, resident trout and the Pacific lamprey.  All of these species rely on the streams within Elk Creek for all life stages (migration, spawning, incubation, rearing, and holding).  The Elk Creek Watershed is extremely sensitive to disturbance and has been affected by too many roads and intensive timber harvests.

Logging is proposed in “Late Successional Reserves,” (areas set aside to protect and enhance old growth forests and species), in “Riparian Reserves,”(waterways and unstable areas), Roadless Areas and within Recreational River boundaries.

The Panther post-fire logging project is within critical habitat for the northern spotted owl (a species listed as “Threatened” under the federal Endangered Species Act). There is overwhelming scientific evidence that northern spotted owls roost and forage in post-fire habitats, and owl territories with severely burned stands in the Panther fire area may continue to be occupied by owls.  Fire-killed trees provide perch sites and future nest sites.   Recent scientific evidence found that survival and reproduction depended upon significant patches of high severity post-fire habitat because it is suitable for a key prey species, the Dusky-footed wood rat.  This habitat is not mimicked by logging as proposed by the Panther project, which would remove snags and prevent recruitment of large downed logs.

EPIC’s ongoing campaign to educate the public on why forests need fires includes fighting bad projects like the Panther, and working with the agencies as much as possible to prevent bad, post-fire logging and promote plantation thinning and other remediating techniques like prescribed fire.

Forest visitors regularly use the area for many reasons including the Sulphur Springs and Norcross Campgrounds and to access the Bear Lake and Bear Creek Trailheads, the Kelsey National Recreational Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail, which lead to the Marble Mountain Wilderness.

Click here to send a letter to Forest Service representatives telling them you oppose the destructive project.

 

2/12/10 The Happy Camp District of the Klamath National Forest is planning to log 254 acres of steep post-fire hillsides. The hillsides were burned during the Panther Fire started during a lightning storm in July 2008. A combination of topography and weather resulted in a run that engulfed 13,000 acres, in a single day, on October 1, 2008. (more…)