Upper South Fork Trinity River Watershed in May of 2021 after the 2020 August Complex Wildfire. Red Mountain and Red Mt. Creek display a natural mosaic burn pattern. Photo by Kimberly Baker.
Shasta Trinity National Forest is proposing to log over 4,000 acres in Forest Glen and the Wild and Scenic South Fork Trinity River in the Smoky, Red Mountain, and Prospect Creek tributaries. The stated purpose of the project is public safety and recreational access, reforestation, reduced fuels and economics.
Public safety and community protection should be a priority. However, these priorities are best managed by focusing on home hardening, defensible space, creating strategic shaded fuel breaks, and removing legitimate hazard trees along major roads. Road construction and widespread ground-based logging with heavy equipment in impaired watersheds detrimentally harms the soil and decimates natural regeneration. Furthermore, leftover logging slash creates immense ground fuels and increases future fire risk.
In addition to the 4,000+ acres of mostly tractor logging, the project proposes nearly 1,000 acres of stream side logging, 6 miles of “temporary” roads and the opening of 2 miles of decommissioned roads. South Fork Trinity is already listed as sediment impaired under the Clean Water Act. Additional sedimentation would further harm struggling salmon and steelhead populations and water quality.
The proposed project runs directly to the river’s edge in some places and throughout multiple stream systems, project implementation would negatively impact the National Wild & Scenic South Fork Trinity River. The river is designated as “wild” because of its outstanding fisheries, and it is legendary for its Chinook salmon and steelhead trout fishing. Both of these species are Threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act, and in June 2021, the spring Chinook was listed as Endangered under the California Endangered Species Act. Logging fire-affected forests is well known to cause sedimentation, which directly harms juvenile salmon, and diminishes their aquatic habitat.
Burned forests are important for wildlife. Snag forests rival green forests in biodiversity. Snags, especially the largest trees, will stand and store carbon for decades, contribute valuable soil nutrients, provide shade and important habitat for many species, including northern spotted owls, woodpeckers, bats and small mammals.
Based on public comments submitted through our last Action Alert, the Forest Service has developed Alternative 2– focusing on hazard trees. However, it includes nearly every road in the project area, over 900 acres. Project planners want to hear from the public about what alternative to select. Let them know you support a reduced Alternative 2.
Comments are due July 7 and must be submitted through this online portal: https://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public//CommentInput?Project=59545
Please personalize the letter below and paste it in the comment box:
Dear Supervisor Birkey and August Phase 1 Planning Team,
I love the Wild and Scenic South Fork Trinity River and I value post-fire forests. The Smoky, Red Mountain, and Prospect Creek tributaries have already begun to recover from the August Complex fire. Natural regeneration is happening throughout this beautiful mosaic burn.
The thousands of acres of ground based post-fire logging, hundreds of acres of logging in Riparian Reserves, eight miles of “temporary” roads and opening two miles of decommissioned roads would harm water quality, soil, regeneration, wildlife, salmon, and other aquatic life. Additionally the visual quality in these watersheds would be greatly impaired by these invasive projects. The environmental assessment offers little to no real data to support the claims that this project would be insignificant. For decades scientific research explicitly shows that logging in fire-affected forests is ecologically the worst thing you can do for every aspect of the environment, and would likely increase future risk of fire in these watersheds.
Please protect and work towards the recovery of struggling salmon and wildlife populations, water quality, habitat connectivity and visual quality in the already impaired South Fork Trinity River. I urge you to forgo this massive logging project and focus on public safety. Focusing solely on imminent hazard trees (that are completely dead), and only around recreation sites and on major roads, not the entire 922 acres of roadside logging, as proposed in Alternative 2, is our best option for a healthy and safe watershed.