Skalski OKs Rim Fire project

By Alex MacLean, The Union Democrat

The first project to remove hazardous trees from parts of the Stanislaus National Forest that burned in last year's Rim Fire was approved recently by Forest Supervisor Susan Skalski.

Skalski signed a declaration on April 25 that allows the first of two proposed salvage logging operations to move forward following last year's megafire that charred more than 257,000 acres in the Central Sierra, including 154,000 in the Stanislaus National Forest.

The project will facilitate timber sales to remove hazardous trees along 194 miles of high-use roads and about 1,000 acres of forest land adjacent to developed facilities, such as campgrounds, and private property.

The decision comes days after Forest Service Chief Thomas Tidwell approved a special "emergency situation determination" that eliminated a 30-day objection period typically required under the National Environmental Protection Act.

Skalski noted in her decision that the project would remove only about 5 percent of the identified burned forest habitat, leaving behind plenty of snags for critters that thrive in post-wildfire environments.

Forest Service officials are still drafting an environmental impact statement on a larger project that calls for the removal of burned trees across 30,000 acres of the forest. Tidwell approved an exemption to the objection period for that project as well, but there will still be a 30-day public comment period after an environmental impact statement is released sometime this month.

For the full story, see the May 2, 2014, edition of The Union Democrat.

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