Forest leaders to raise logging

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By GENEVIEVE BOOKWALTER

SACRAMENTO Delighting loggers and disgusting environmentalists, the Forest Service yesterday said more than twice as many trees should be cut from Sierra Nevada national forests.

The long-awaited announcement came from Regional Forester Jack Blackwell, who spent more than a year considering what changes he wanted to make to the Sierra Nevada Framework.

The Framework was passed in January 2001, during the last days of the Clinton administration. A management plan for 11 national forests across the mountain range, the plan prioritized environmental conservation efforts and reduced logging and grazing in the mountain range. The Forest Service spent 10 years and about $20 million developing the document.

Eleven months after the Framework's release, the Bush administration directed Blackwell to review it. He chartered a Forest Service team to evaluate the Framework and suggest more aggressive fire-fuels treatments while helping communities that might have been hurt by the Framework's environmental protections.

The review team gave its recommended changes to Blackwell earlier this month. Yesterday, during a press conference in Sacramento, he said he hopes to implement all of them.

"How many more wake-up calls do we need?" Blackwell said, citing wildfires that burned more than 1 million acres in Colorado, Arizona, Oregon and Southern California last summer.

To help prevent catastrophic fires in his home state, Blackwell said he would take his review team's advice and allow loggers to cut 450 billion board feet annually from the 11 Sierra Nevada forests over the next 10 years.

The original Framework allowed cutting 191 billion board feet in the first five years and 108 billion board feet in the second five.

Builders use about 15,000 board feet of wood on an average house.

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The Union Democrat
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