Stanislaus National Forest Releases Salvage Logging Plan

This article just came out in the Sacramento Bee regarding salvage plans for the Stanislaus NF. Public meetings will be held today regarding hazard tree removal, and on Friday and Saturday to discuss salvage logging plans.

Stanislaus National Forest reveals Rim fire salvage-logging details

By John Holland

jholland@modbee.com

December 9, 2013
Read more here: http://www.mercedsunstar.com/2013/12/09/3384001/stanislaus-national-forest-reveals.html#storylink=cpy

The Stanislaus National Forest has released a detailed proposal for salvage logging from the Rim fire and is asking what the public thinks.

The plan calls for removing dead trees from 29,648 of the 257,314 acres that burned over several weeks after the Aug. 17 start of the fire.

The work would provide pine, fir and cedar logs to sawmills via timber sales that would help pay for replanting and other recovery work. The volume of timber is not known.

The salvage would not be done over the vast majority of the burn area, including Yosemite National Park, brushland, young plantations, river corridors and conifer stands with less severe damage. The plan also would not involve logging planned on private timberland within the national forest boundary, which the state oversees.

Forest Supervisor Susan Skalski announced the plan in the Federal Register last week.

“Vegetation burn severities in the project area varied from low to high, but many areas contain trees killed or so severely damaged that they are not expected to survive,” she wrote.

The forest has launched a 30-day period, ending Jan. 6, for the public to comment on what should be covered in the draft environmental impact study on the logging. The study will guide a tentative decision expected in April and a final decision that could come in August.

The blaze, the largest in the Sierra Nevada’s recorded history, is believed to have started from a hunter’s illegal campfire near the confluence of the Tuolumne and Clavey rivers. The hunter has not been identified.

The salvage logging is in addition to the removal of trees in danger of toppling near roads, campgrounds and other places the public visits.

In the salvage areas, the forest staff plans to leave some dead, standing trees and downed logs for the benefit of wildlife that can live in burned landscapes.

The notice said many stands were overly dense before the fire and that logging would reduce the chances of future blazes.

Republican Rep. Tom McClintock, whose district includes the burn area, has introduced a bill that would waive the environmental review process for Rim salvage sales. The measure, which cleared the House Committee on Natural Resources last month, is opposed by environmental groups.

The bill also had called for logging in Yosemite, but McClintock dropped that language in the face of protest.

Bee staff writer John Holland can be reached at jholland@modbee.com or (209) 578-2385.

3 Comments

  1. I expect the usual suspects will come out to denounce any sort of salvage logging (because logging is bad, bad, bad). This will tie up any contracts in court until the net worth of the trees equals about the worth of the paper the contracts are printed on.

    The real loss will be the lack of reforestation that will likely happen. Of the ~1.5 million acres of National Forest burned (2000-2009 data), 500,000 acres were converted to non-forest (deforested), unless they were replanted. Of that 500,000 acres, only 50,000 acres were replanted. Only ten percent reclamation is a disgrace.

    • Even with salvage logging completed, we have seen where reforestation is stalled because of problems with herbicide plans and funding. The Power Fire on the Amador RD of the Eldorado NF remains partially unplanted, even after 8 years. Both bearclover and brush are impacting burned areas, preventing reforestation until those issues can be dealt with. Ironically, some people think that wildfires should never be replanted but, we have already seen what the results of those mindsets are. Most people don’t think that perpetual brushfields are better than plantations.

  2. So much for a “billion board feet” of salvage logging volume, eh? I doubt this acreage is “right-sized” to deal with the all the issues within the Forest Service portion of the Rim Fire. Our study needs to document the probable additional mortality that will come from bark beetles. I think it would have been prudent to include low intensity burn areas into the project, in anticipation of inevitable bark beetle blooms. I’m guessing that they won’t be including the high intensity burn areas, in “protected” wildlife stands, despite their now-diminished (or complete lack of) suitability as nesting habitats. Additionally, botanical areas might suffer when trees fall on and kill those rare plants. Trees could be felled and removed by helicopters, with minimum impacts on rare plants.

    Such minimal plans will still probably be litigated by eco-groups, despite the expected impacts of bark beetle population explosions. The 1987 Complex Fires on the same Ranger District led to a 6-year “plague” of bark beetles, which stretched from Yosemite to the Tahoe National Forest. Yes, we have already seen what happens when we “let nature take its course”, where after 40 years, Stanislaus NF brushfields still persist after the original fire, in 1971. Welcome to “faith-based” forest management, yet again.

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