EPIC is sharpening our pencils because we have a lot of work to do: three new destructive projects from the Klamath National Forest have arrived in our mailbox in three days. We have a new massive salvage sale, plans for roadside logging (where there shouldn’t even be roads!), and road construction on public land to facilitate logging on private land. Ugh.
Here’s a brief glimpse of what we have in store:
Another Huge Post-Fire Logging Project
Another year, another terrible, horrible, no good, very bad post-fire logging project: the Seiad-Horse Project. The project consists of five different components: Roadside hazard tree removal; fuel reduction along private property; post-fire logging; and replanting; and underburning. Some things—such as fuels work near private property and underburning—are things that EPIC (generally) can support. Others, like the massive post-fire logging, make us spitting mad! Like the controversial Westside Project, the Siead-Horse Project proposes massive clearcuts—around 1,726 acres—in areas that logging should be prohibited. An initial look at our owl maps shows that much of the project is within occupied northern spotted owl habitat.
To make matters worse, the Forest Service is attempting to evade federal environmental law by shortcutting environmental review. As a warning: we are about to get wonky. The project is being pushed through an Environmental Analysis (EA), which takes a light look at the potential environmental impacts of a project instead of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that should be required. By skirting a more thorough look at the impacts, the Forest Service evades the crucial public review of the impacts of the project—all to speed up the timeline ever so slightly. Because we know the Forest Service reads our blogs, let me be clear: this approach will backfire. Do a full EIS.
There are some positive signs that the Forest Service is listening to our comments (and our lawsuits). The project proposes replanting, but only in areas where natural reforestation could be impacted, such as in large patches of high-severity fire where there is a general lack of nearby trees to reseed the forest. And we are encouraged that underburning is a component of the project, something that EPIC has been advocating for many years.
Salvage Logging Under Another Name
The Klamath National Forest has proposed a second salvage logging project, the “Oak Fire Roadside Hazard Tree Removal Project,” although here the logging will be limited to the roadside along 39 miles of roads near Happy Camp. To the extent that our society (and our tax dollars) supports salvage logging projects, this is the type of project that the Forest Service should pursue.
Again, while this is the type of project that the Forest Service should pursue—it is important for forest users to be safe on public roads—and many of these roads should be closed and decommissioned. The roadside logging will occur through areas where roads—and logging projects—are inappropriate, such as Late Successional Reserves (lands that are to be managed for the protection and development of old growth characteristics) and Inventoried roadless areas (duh, right?).
Like the Seiad-Horse Logging Project, the Forest Service is attempting to avoid compliance with federal environmental laws, pushing this project through a “categorical exclusion,” meaning that the Forest Service will conduct no formal environmental review on the project. The timber industry has been pushing for more of this lawless logging through bills that are currently making their way through Congress.
Public Road Construction for Private Profit
The Hancock Road Access Project would allow the construction of a new forest road just so that a private timber company could log its land easier. A road already exists to the property; this new road—across our public lands—is just to increase private timber profit. Welcome to the world of Trump’s Forest Service.
The new road would be punched in along a ridgetop and will be visible from Mount Ashland, among other places. This new road violates directives in the Klamath National Forest’s Management Plan to limit these types of projects and to minimize impacts to viewsheds. Although this project is relatively minor in comparison to the large scale salvage projects proposed above—only 34 trees will be cut in total—it is still distressing to see (another) sweetheart deal for timber companies.