Rim Fire closures panned by board

Chris Caskey, The Union Democrat

Tuolumne County leaders and top Stanislaus National Forest officials discussed Rim Fire recovery efforts and other post-fire policies Tuesday at a meeting that included barbs about the Forest Service's handling of grazing allotments and forest closures in the burn area.

The comments came during Forest Supervisor Susan Skalski's annual state-of-the-forest presentation to the Board of Supervisors. While Skalski and other speakers covered several topics - like this year's high fire danger, local-federal cooperation and long-term logging policies - last summer's devastating Rim Fire dominated the conversation.

"The Rim Fire has totally consumed us on the forest level," Skalski said.

The fire burned more than 400 square-miles for two months in the summer and fall of 2013 before it was contained. In the end, it scorched more than 250,000 acres of Stanislaus National Forest, Yosemite National Park and private land. Thousands of people were evacuated, which also kept tourists away, devastating local businesses.

Skalski said Tuesday that she expects forest officials to complete and release the second of two plans in August that would allow loggers to cut damaged trees from 30,000 acres. The forest supervisor signed the first "salvage plan" on April 25, opening the door to remove hazard trees along 194 miles of affected roads.

The Forest Service is moving at an expedited pace on those plans, Skalski said, because the wood becomes decreasingly marketable as time goes on.

For the complete story, see the May 8, 2014, edition of The Union Democrat.

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