Having trouble keeping track of all of the gigantic logging projects currently proposed by the U.S. Forest Service on Northwest California’s public lands? EPIC is here to help break down the projects and explain their implications.
The Region 5 Post-Disturbance Hazardous Tree Management Project, proposed in early 2022, is poised to be the largest timber sale in modern U.S. history, covering 5,780 miles of roads and trails throughout California. The “North Zone” of the project, located in our region, would permit clearcutting 300 feet along either side of 3,049 miles of roads and trails in Six Rivers, Shasta-Trinity, Mendocino and Klamath National Forests. Picture clearcuts the length of football fields on either side of enough seldom-used forest roads to drive I-80 from Los Angeles to New York City — totaling 187,880 acres of logging (or 294 sq mi, nearly the size of New York City). In December 2022 EPIC and allies filed an objection to the “North Zone” of the R5 Project asking the Forest Service to reduce the environmental impact by retaining living trees, focusing on high-severity burn areas, fully protecting riparian reserves, and reducing the extent of roadside logging by limiting the project to roads needed by the public. We believe these are reasonable constraints on a project that otherwise looks more like a massive timber sale than hazard tree management. Read more about the R5 Project in EPIC's previous blog posts from November 2022, May 2022, and February 2022.
The Antelope Tennant post-fire timber sale proposes clearcutting 20,230 acres (or 32 sq mi, slightly smaller than Miami, FL) of both live and burned trees in the Medicine Lake Highlands on the Klamath National Forest — which the Forest Service euphemistically calls “fire recovery” and “fuels reduction”. They are pushing this logging through as an “emergency” even though the fires were in 2021. And while the hundreds of projects EPIC has reviewed typically include additional reports on wildlife, soil, hydrology, botany, archeology etc., there is no in-depth information on any of these subjects for this project. Take wildlife, for instance: even though these forests are home to threatened and endangered species, there is zero additional wildlife-related information provided in the Environmental Assessment. Read more about the Antelope Tennant project in EPIC's previous blog post from February 2023.
The Bear Country post-fire timber sale proposes 5,635 acres (or 8.8 sq mi, slightly smaller than Arcata) of logging within the wild & scenic Salmon River Watershed on the Klamath National Forest. The logging will be concentrated on fire-resilient mature and old-growth forests in the river canyon, and within some of the only occupied northern spotted owl sites in the region. Alarmingly, the project would remove 223 acres of nesting and roosting habitat and 700 acres of foraging habitat for the northern spotted owl “in perpetuity”. Read more about the Bear Country project in EPIC's previous blog post from October 2021.
Also on the Salmon River, the River Complex project proposes 3,624 acres (6 sq mi) of post-fire logging in the headwaters of the South Fork Salmon and Scott Rivers on the Klamath National Forest. The Forest Service plans to clearcut the Taylor/Carter Meadows Late Successional Reserve, which would create more flammable timber plantations. Read more about the River Complex project in EPIC's previous blog post from May 2022.
To top it off, we just received a scoping notice for the FH7 “restoration project” proposing 9,575 acres of commercial logging on the Mendocino National Forest. Explore the Forest Service’s River Complex project proposal documents at www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=63610.
In sum, these proposed timber sales encompass 226,944 acres, or nearly 355 square miles (almost a quarter of the size of the entire state of Rhode Island). EPIC and our allies have been working hard to monitor, comment on and object to these projects in an effort to ameliorate the scope and damage. For action alerts and updates on these projects and more, subscribe to EPIC's biweekly e-newsletter and check our blog.