Rim Fire log salvage plan opposed by Ariz. group

By Alex MacLean / The Union Democrat

An Arizona-based environmental advocacy group is objecting to the U.S. Forest Service's recent Rim Fire "salvage logging" proposal that would allow loggers to remove up to 660 million board-feet-worth of fire damaged trees from the Stanislaus National Forest.

The Center for Biological Diversity, based in Tucson, Ariz., in a written statement earlier this week slammed the "preferred" action in the Forest Service's draft environmental impact statement for the proposed multi-year Rim Fire Recovery project, which is intended to address a portion of the 402-square-miles that burned in last year's blaze.

"This timber sale will be incredibly destructive," said Randi Spivak, a spokeswoman for the Center for Biological Diversity. "The logging will hurt watersheds and wildlife and even increase the risk of unnatural fires by spreading invasive species. It's little more than an excuse to cut old trees in forests that would otherwise be protected."

More than 257,000 acres of forestland in the Central Sierra burned during the Rim Fire, including 154,000 in the Stanislaus National Forest. It started Aug. 17 by a hunter's illegal campfire in a canyon near the confluence of the Tuolumne and Clavey rivers. The case is still under review with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Fresno, and no arrest has been made.

The Forest Service recently approved a roughly 1,000-acre "salvage logging" project to remove hazardous burned trees alongside high-use roads that posed a threat to public safety.

The larger project calls for logging across 44,000 acres to remove dead trees, protect roads and reduce fuels for future wildfires. It also involves 320 miles of road repairs, 5 miles of new road construction and 13 miles of temporary road construction.

For the complete story, see the May 23, 2014, edition of The Union Democrat.

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