Federal Forestry Events in California (Long)

Donald L Ferrt wolfbat359 at mindspring.com
Fri Jan 30 14:46:01 EST 2004


lhfotoware at hotmail.com (Larry Harrell) wrote in message news:<7a90c754.0401250815.1c6f91f8 at posting.google.com>...
> Plenty has happened in the last week regarding forestry issues in
> California. The log-awaited amendment to the Sierra Nevada Framework
> has been finally presented to the public. Also, the Giant Sequoia
> National Monument management plan is being displayed for public
> examination.
> 
> First off is the amendment to the Sierra Nevada Framework and here's
> what the Regional Forester sent to us employees:
> 
> Dear Forest Service folks, 
> It gives me great pleasure to make two related announcements today: a
> decision to improve the Sierra Nevada Forest Plan Amendment, and an
> exciting new initiative, the &#8220;Forests With a Future&#8221;
> Campaign, which we&#8217;ll use to implement the improved plan to
> protect old growth forests, wildlife habitat, and local communities
> against catastrophic wildfires.
> First, I&#8217;d like to thank all of you for your effort and
> investment in the process.  Our work is very challenging, and matters
> a great deal to the various groups of people whom we serve. The Review
> was a complex task and I&#8217;m proud of how the Forest Service
> performed it. The sum total of all your expertise, good judgment and
> diligence has put the Service in the right direction.
> I&#8217;m counting on your redoubled professionalism and commitment,
> because now we must move forward to achieve results.
> One painful reminder we&#8217;ve experienced over the last year is
> that catastrophic wildfire will come again to the Sierra Nevada
> &#8211; and that we at the Forest Service, as guardians of the forest,
> must act to assure its long-term welfare.
> That&#8217;s why we must focus on the proactive measures of the
> &#8220;Forests With A Future&#8221; campaign.  The name has been
> chosen to emphasize the urgency with which we must act to preserve
> old-growth trees, wildlife and local communities from catastrophic
> fires.  This campaign reflects the core values of the Forest Service,
> including pride in our expertise and a proactive approach to our work
> and explaining it to our key constituencies.
> The forests of the future, we envision, must be more like the forests
> of the past. Our goal is to reduce the level of explosive fuels at
> strategic sites to the point where fire, burning slow and low, can
> once again be a natural part of the forest ecosystem. Reducing the
> fuels will be done in ways that adapt methods to the needs of each
> forest area, using a combination of professional judgment and
> monitoring.
> &#8220;Forests with a Future&#8221; is a campaign run on &#8220;forest
> time,&#8221; so that within the next fifty years we project a dramatic
> doubling of old-growth forests, and near doubling of wildlife habitat,
> including the spotted owl. 

Looks like it is the Leave No Endangered Species Behind Plan:

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2001842872_timber24m.html

Rare-species rules at risk in Bush forest plan 

By Craig Welch
Seattle Times staff reporter

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Rules requiring federal foresters to search for rare salamanders and
bats and dozens of species of lichen and fungi before letting loggers
cut old-growth trees would be abolished in coming months under a Bush
administration plan published yesterday.
The move to stop surveying for 296 rare species in damp Douglas fir
forests is the first of several major rule changes the White House is
seeking at the request of timber companies that want to more than
double the cut from Northwest forests. Several environmental groups
are protesting the changes.

While it's not clear how much the administration's action, by itself,
would increase logging, officials with the U.S. Forest Service and
Bureau of Land Management said yesterday it would make it simpler to
prepare timber sales and free up time and money for other projects,
such as thinning fire-prone tree stands.

"We've invested millions of dollars in looking (for species) but
haven't found a single new site for over 120 of them," said Dick
Prather, who heads a team from both agencies that has been crafting
plans to eliminate the rules. "We think there are better investments."

The rule change is part of a larger legal strategy by Northwest
logging companies to remove barriers that have largely kept them out
of the old-growth forests in Washington, Oregon and California since
the mid-1990s, according to industry strategy documents. The timber
groups have repeatedly sued the Bush administration over rules that
prevent access to trees. The administration — rather than fight the
suits — settles the cases by agreeing to change those rules.

In 1994, the Clinton administration dramatically scaled back Northwest
logging in response to conflicts over the threatened northern spotted
owl.

Timber harvest was made off-limits on 80 percent of 24 million acres
in the three states. Roughly 1 million acres of ancient forests
remained open to logging, and the timber industry was led to believe
it could cut about 1 billion board feet of timber each year.

But the practical effect of rules put in place by the Clinton White
House meant the companies have cut less than half that.

The surveying rules were put together to protect tiny — in some cases
microscopic — old-growth-dependent species.

Timber groups estimate it has made an additional 51 million board feet
of wood off-limits and have persuaded the Bush administration to
eliminate it, arguing other rules protect rare animals and much of the
woods is already off-limits.

"The only thing it's done has allowed the environmental movement to
challenge things at every turn," said Ross Mickey, with the industry
group American Forest Resource Council in Eugene.

 
 
 
"That money could be spent doing useful stuff rather than having
people crawl around on their hands and knees looking for some slug
that really doesn't need protecting."

Environmental groups, however, said the remaining forests are
recovering from a century of logging, and these surveys are the best
way to find and ensure the survival of small plants and animals whose
function in the overall ecosystem is not understood.

"We think these surveys have to be a cost of doing business," said
Doug Heiken, with the Oregon Natural Resources Council.

"A lot of these critters can't fly from chain saws like owls. It's one
of the reasons we were able to keep 1 million acres open to logging in
the first place. These surveys were like a promise that logging would
first be done carefully."

http://www.registerguard.com/news/2004/01/24/a1.wildlifesurveys.0124.html

January 24, 2004

Industry cheers halt to surveys of wildlife

By Scott Maben 
The Register-Guard
  


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The Bush administration said Friday that it will eliminate
controversial rules that require federal agencies to look for and
protect about 300 rare plants and animals in Northwest national
forests where logging is planned.

The decision is expected to boost timber sales in west-side forests in
Oregon, Washington and Northern California, while saving millions of
dollars in work that government officials say could be better spent
removing brush and small trees from fire-prone forests.

But the change, reversing a policy adopted by the Clinton
administration, also will leave 57 rare and little-known species at
high risk of extermination in all or part of their range in the area
covered by the 1994 Northwest Forest Plan, according to a federal
analysis.

"Now we're going to be destroying more old growth and harming these
species," said Doug Heiken, Eugene-based representative of the Oregon
Natural Resources Council, an environmental group. "The Bush
administration is choosing a path to escalate the conflict and
controversy over logging old growth forests."

Since the "survey and manage" program was created as part of the
regional forest plan, environmental groups have used it to block or
force changes in timber sales they say would harm the wildlife federal
agencies are obligated to safeguard.

But the timber industry has complained that the surveys are
unwarranted and a leading reason why logging in federal forests has
dropped sharply in the past decade, below levels anticipated when the
Clinton administration crafted the forest plan to protect the northern
spotted owl, wild salmon and hundreds of other species found in old
growth forests.

Industry leaders cheered Friday's news that the administration plans
to halt the survey program. The change should help the U.S. Forest
Service and Bureau of Land Management meet timber harvest goals, said
Bob Ragon, executive director of Douglas Timber Operators in Roseburg.

"We're pleased with what they have come up with at this point," Ragon
said, adding that he hopes the decision will survive an expected court
challenge from environmentalists.

"It'll be interesting to see if public agencies have done an adequate
job in documenting how they plan to deal with sensitive species, and
if it will pass muster with a federal judge," he said.

Environmentalists have successfully defended the survey program in
federal court, arguing that it serves as a safety net for rare
insects, amphibians, mollusks, fungi and other wildlife in areas open
to logging. They said the White House is breaking a 10-year-old
promise to protect old growth habitat for dozens of species on a watch
list for possible listing under the Endangered Species Act.

Pete Frost, an attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center in
Eugene, said conservation groups won't let the guidelines be discarded
without a fight. "We are sure to litigate this decision," Frost said.

Douglas Timber Operators challenged the program in a 2001 lawsuit,
arguing that it's a major impediment to a stable timber supply.

The administration settled the suit by agreeing to re-evaluate the
survey program. It said dropping the program will help strike a
balance between "healthy forest ecosystem objectives and sustainable
commodity production."

That, Heiken estimates, means recent logging levels will double in the
region. "Here they are changing the rules to make timber targets the
dominant factor," he said.

The Forest Service and BLM estimate a more modest increase in logging
as a result of eliminating the surveys. Their analysis shows that the
annual harvest goal for all lands covered by the Northwest Forest Plan
would be 765 million board feet, up from 675 million board feet - an
increase of 13 percent.

But those goals are well above actual harvest levels. Since 1994, the
agencies have offered an average of 60 percent of the timber harvest
goal under the forest plan. Last year, the total sale volume was 473
million board feet.

"Yeah, you could say there will be more log trucks on the road," said
Dick Prather, a BLM official who led the review of the survey program.
"But are we harvesting more timber than we planned to? No, we are not
up to that level at all."

Prather also said about half of the 300 species covered under the
survey program will be eligible to be included in another Forest
Service and BLM program that aims to prevent actions that will
contribute to the need to list a species as threatened or endangered.

"There's lots of other things we believe offer some protections," he
said.



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