Wildlife conservation groups on Thursday praised a decision by Dixie National Forest withdrawing a plan to harvest 8,000 acres of old-growth forest near Escalante.
“Conservationists are calling this a valentine for wildlife,” said Kevin Mueller, program director for Utah Environmental Congress. “The withdrawal really is a reprieve for wildlife.”….
Mueller said the harvest has appeared dead at least three times before, as far back as 1999. “This is a horrible game of whack a mole that’s been going for about a dozen years, and I just really hope the Forest Service gives up the ghost on this project and doesn’t resurrect it again,” he said.
The timber harvest area of 8,306 acres is about 15 miles northwest of Escalante at elevations ranging from 9,000 to 10,750 feet. Mueller said the trees that were to be cut down are an estimated 150 to 400 years old. Conservation groups have fought the harvest, saying the trees provide needed nesting and forage habitat for the threatened Mexican spotted owl and sensitive-species goshawk….
Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab said opposition by groups outside of Utah like the Montana-based Alliance for the Wild Rockies, is a “perfect example” of why state officials want to take control of public lands. “This is another reason why our Utah lands and forestry people and local people can do a better job of managing lands because we’re not held hostage to groups in … other areas,” he said.