SACRAMENTO (CN) – For the second time this week, the U.S. Forest Service is accused of declaring a bogus “emergency situation” to push through salvage timber sales, this time clear-cutting in Northern California’s Shasta-Trinity National Forest.
The Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center says such declaration is justified only when a project threatens imminent economic loss to the government, not to a private, third-party timber auction bidder, as in this case. Before 2003, the rule did not include even this economic provision; it was intended for true emergencies such as forest fires.
A 2008 lightning storm burned about 3,600 acres in the Upper South Fork Trinity River Watershed in Shasta-Trinity National Forest. After declaring an emergency to exclude the project from administrative appeal and environmental review, the Forest Service now seeks to log about 200 acres there.
A biological assessment that claims the threatened northern spotted owl does not use the burned areas is inaccurate, as the owl uses post-fire areas for forage and roosting, the Wildlands Center says. The assessment failed to mention that the owl avoids areas that have been clear-cut.
Past logging and roads have caused erosion – not good for an area already at risk for landslides, the lawsuit states. Streams there are already impaired by sediment, which “has a dire effect on fish species.”
The Wildlands Center also has challenged the Forest Service’s “Panther” logging project, in the same national forest.