In September, 2007, the lightning-ignited Moonlight Fire burned 65,000 acres in and around California’s Plumas National Forest. In keeping with the ecology of these forests, the fire burned a mosaic of high-intensity mixed with unburned trees. The Forest Service estimated 549 million board feet were scorched.
In making its salvage logging decision, the Forest Service evaluated 4 alternatives, ranging from a low of 14 mmbf to a high of 120 mmbf. All alternatives appraised negatively. That is, the Forest Service predicted a timber purchaser would lose $600,000 logging the 14 mmbf alternative and almost $12 million if a purchaser bought and logged the 120 mmbf sale.
In July, 2009, the Forest Service decided to move forward with the 120 mmbf sale, citing the jobs and wages that would be generated in the local economy.
Fast forward to the present. Now the purchaser, Pew Forest Products, is pleading his case to the Forest Service and Plumas county supervisors that he will go bankrupt if forced to carry out the timber sale contract he purchased.
Question for readers: What part of “you’ll lose $12 million if you log this timber” do people not understand?