Dozerline backburn on the Southern end of Mill fire. Credit Reuben/Feather River Hotshots
Mill Fire Project
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 25th. Please 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.
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.
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.
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.