Chaining of pinyon-juniper forests is back in the news. Today’s Greenwire:
Heather Richards, E&E News reporter
Published: Tuesday, September 17, 2019
Environmental groups have upended the Interior Department’s plans to cut down most of a scraggly forest covering about 30,000 acres of southern Utah within the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
The Interior Board of Land Appeals ruled yesterday that the Bureau of Land Management failed to consider how cutting down pinyon and Utah juniper trees would affect migratory birds. The appeals board also found BLM’s plan to use “non-native” seed — a part of its habitat improvement plans — was a mistake, as it conflicted with the agency’s management guidelines.
The board bucked other complaints in the appeal, such as conservationists’ argument that BLM failed to properly account for a climate change impact from bringing down the forest. That argument has been fairly effective for environmental groups in recent months for protests and lawsuits of oil and gas development on public land.
National Geographic a couple of weeks ago (with a misleading photo of a lone pinyon pine growing from a rock like a bonzai tree):
The U.S. is moving forward with a plan to create new cattle pasture and prevent fires despite what scientists say is meager environmental review.
Machine tracks in the sand frame the site near Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, a harbinger of its vanishing solitude. The federal government plans to remove an unprecedented number of trees here, it says to reduce fire risk, improve habitat for greater sage grouse, and increase forage for cattle and a world-renowned trophy-hunting deer herd.
And it plans to do it fast. The Bureau of Land Management failed to conduct a thorough environmental analysis of the project that considered the impacts of cutting trees on the climate, said scientists who appealed to a federal review board to stop it. If approved, the effort could define how the nation’s most sensitive public lands are managed for a generation.
We’ve discussed this issue here, such as: