Activists Forced to Select Clearcuts
11/89 (Article1): Activists must choose sales to clearcut or Govt. will do it for them. Two advisory boards2 "choose" the "least worst" 300 million board feet.
As all of you must know by now, the Congress voided one half of the sales injunctions on the Siskiyou National Forest, but didn't say which half. It told the Environmentalists to choose which Ancient Forests would be clear-cut, and which would get a temporary stay of execution. Since most of the sales involved the west side of the Forest, our chapter was very involved in making recommendations on which places to clear cut. If the environmental groups who brought the lawsuits that led to the injunctions hadn't made these choices then the Forest Service would have made them for us. Of course we think it was terrible that the injunctions were released and worse that we were forced to choose. The Audubon Society's position is that none of the remaining Ancient Forest should be clear-cut.
Rick Hazard and I looked at a number of factors trying always to make the choices that would be "least worst". We looked at all kinds of maps; photographs; owl sighting data and talked to biologists, timber planners and managers. The local Forest Service Districts were very helpful and cooperative. Since some sales had many sub-units we sometimes recommended that some units within a sale be cut and others taken off the market. The recommendations that we made covered some 100 million board feet of timber on about 2500 acres. Our suggestions were for the most part accepted, and about sixty-five million board feet will soon be offered for sale on the Siskiyou.
Among the factors we considered were:
- Spotted Owl habitat: Were there owls in the sale area? Was it good owl habitat?
- Fragmentation: Did the sale fragment a stand of old growth? We want to keep all the big pieces of ancient forest we can. In many ways a small piece of ancient forest doesn't really function as an ancient forest ecological system.
- Stream impact: Was the sale near a stream? Everything else being equal we want to avoid logging near streams.
- Visual Impact: Could you see the clear cut from a road or stream?
- New Roads: Would a lot of roads need to be cut to get at the proposed unit?
- Proximity to Existing Clear cuts and Plantations: A lot of the Forest has already been clear cut, turned into tree farms or is adjacent to private land which has been logged over.
- Corridors: Does the proposed sale sever a corridor, especially a north–south corridor. Corridors link pieces of existing old growth and can provide paths for species migration. Sometimes roads and clear cuts can create places that become barriers to species movement. We don't want to create islands that trap species.
- Crown Jewels: s the area a special place; does it contain very large trees? For example one sale potentially contained old growth Oregon redwoods.
Two sales are of special interest. Some good news and some bad news...actually some good news and some awfully bad news. The Bear ridge sale in the Winchuck is off the market. This is the area of old growth Redwood we toured on 10 30 with about 40 people, the most northerly reach of the Coastal Redwoods. in addition, District ranger Mike Frazier has promised that should the Bear Ridge sale be offered in the future the unit boundaries will be drawn to exclude all old growth Redwood. For the present there is to be no logging in the Winchuck River area.
The other sale in the immediate area, Grapevine, is being held up by an appeal by the California League to Save the Redwoods. If the appeal is resolved and the Grapevine is proposed as a 1990 sale one of the options for the sale (which would go to the new advisory committee for the forest) would be a Redwood Old Growth zero-cut option.
[Elk River3)] The bad news is that the "Father Oak" sale around McGribble campground and Bald Mountain Creek is going forward. Since no Spotted Owls have been sighted in the area we couldn't save it. This sale will clear cut 247 acres including units close to Bald Mountain creek; will actually log the trees off the top of Bald Mountain, and clear cut the area across from the creek at the top of the nature Trail that leads out of McGribble Campground. There are about 12 separate clear cuts involved in this sale. The extensive logging that is being done in private property in the area has made this sale very inadvisable.
[Ed. note. During the succeeding years, 7 of these 12 units, and the most sensitive ones, including the top of Bald mountain overlooking Port Orford survived this and successive 318 riders. As of June 1997, 5 units consisting of 125 acres have been clear-cut but the rest are believed to be "saved". All the Redwood sales were also subsequently dropped.]