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HIGH UINTAS PRESERVATION COUNCIL ACTION ALERT (2/16/04)

WASATCH-CACHE NATIONAL FOREST PROPOSES EAST FORK (Bear River) TIMBER SALVAGE SALE FOR NORTH SLOPE LOGGERS!

Your WILD VOICE needs to sing by 23 February.

The Wasatch-Cache National Forest, Evanston Ranger District, released the East Fork (Bear) Fire Salvage Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) earlier this winter. As you will recall the East Fork Fire burned about 14,000 acres on the western North Slope during the summer of 2002. Only about half the acreage within the fire perimeter even burned and only 28% of the area had a high burn severity.
COMMENTS on this DEIS and proposed salvage timber sale are due 23 February and should be sent to:
Steve Ryberg
Evanston/Mt. View District Ranger
Wasatch-Cache National Forest
PO Box 1880
Evanston, WY 82931
or FAXED:Steve Ryberg, 307-7898639
or EMAILED:comments-intermtn-wasatch-cache-evanston-mtnview@fs.fed.us
Emailed messages must contain your name and address (or a scanned signature) in the text of your letter. Make sure your email mentions the East Fork Salvage DEIS.

The PROPOSAL

The PROPOSAL by the Forest Service is to harvest dead and dying scorched trees in 21 harvesting units on 865 acres (making for three large timber sale contracts) with construction of about 5 miles of new temporary roads (to be obliterated after the harvesting is completed) and re-construction of 22.6 miles of existing roads. This harvesting would occur on the East Fork Bear, primarily on Mill Creek and the West Fork Blacks Fork. Green trees and unmerchantable dead trees (<8” diameter) would not be harvested. It would be in conjunction with about 791 acres of salvage logging that is proposed for private land (inholdings) on Mill Creek and West Fork Blacks Fork.

No timber harvesting or road building would occur within any of the North Slope Roadless area but harvesting would be adjacent to the Forest Service proposed wilderness and roadless boundary in a number of areas.The other two alternatives are:

  • a) a NO ROADS alternative wherein only 9 miles of roads would be reconstructed and 2 large timber sale contracts would be offered on 648 acres (along with the 791 acres on adjoining private land), and
  • b) a NO ACTION, baseline, alternative.
The GOOD STUFF with the proposal is:
  1. The decision to stay out of roadless areas with any harvesting and roads.
PROBLEMS with the proposal are:
  1. This was a “done deal” from the second the fire started. The Wasatch-Cache obviously wanted a timber sale in the area. Instead of constraining the environmental analysis to the fundamental forest plan goals of watershed health and biodiversity, the Wasatch set the purpose of the sale so tight—working with local communities—that any alternative but the proposed action fails to fully meet the purpose of the DEIS! UNLESS YOU OWN A LOGGING COMPANY and live in Wyoming’s Bridger Valley, YOUR VOICE HAS BEEN ELIMINATED! Everything about this proposal is contrary to the spirit of the new forest plan.
  2. The decision to construct temporary roads and obliterate them sounds good, but the DEIS fails to note these temporary roads could be on the ground for up to a decade while harvesting continues (based on typical length of timber contracts). Study after study has shown temporary roads have the same effect upon wildlife habitat as permanent roads. There really is no such thing as a temporary road.
  3. The DEIS notes over and over again that wildlife habitat will be further aggravated and fragmented if the proposed action is implemented, slightly less if the NO ROADS alternative is implemented, and with no effects if things are simply left alone. The DEIS also notes one of the reasons for the sale is to control possible insect outbreaks but then concedes that neither of the two alternatives will have any measurable and meaningful impacts on insect outbreaks!
  4. Whatever erosion problems exist, the DEIS notes they can be handled without logging or road building and that both of those activities increase the problems(the DEIS promises to solves this by simply doing more “mitigation.”).
  5. The DEIS notes one of the purposes of the logging is to remove large burned trees that will fall within the next 5-10 years and possibly contribute to another reburn and soil erosion. Yet the DEIS plainly notes that a reburn of any consequence is decades away, dependent upon unusual weather conditions, and a fully grown forest within the burned areas to provide overstory and ladder fuels (trees with branches). The DEIS notes this fire had a difficult time spreading into adjacent areas where fires have burned.
  6. The economic analysis completely ignores non-market resource values, all other economic values placed on the forest by non-Bridger Valley, Wyoming residents, and fails to even note that logging related jobs in Uinta County, WY account for barely 0.5% of total jobs in the county! (WY Econ. Analysis Div., 2001)
WHAT A GOOD DEIS WOULD DO:
  1. Implement its own analysis. What the DEIS concedes, and then ignores, is that fire of this magnitude is nothing unusual in this ecosystem, that fire is, indeed, the engine of forest succession! From an ecological perspective a forest and a fire are of the same fabric. The ecological dance has begun!
  2. Because over 700 acres of forest are going to be harvested on private land inholdings, the Forest Service must assure all potential erosion problems are immediately addressed and resolved within the No Action alternative. This is easily done and the Forest Service knows how to do without building or re-constructing one foot of new road.
  3. Assure numerous long term study plots are formally designated throughout the burn perimeter in different burn severities and different forest types to periodically and systematically sit back and do the good job of observing natural processes at work restoring this forest. Enjoy the evolutionary and ecological dance that will tell foresters far more about a forest than logging trees and building roads.
WHY WRITE IF IT DOESN’T MATTER?
  1. That’s why. The Wasatch has all but said ‘this will be done.’ So the best thing we can do is say, ‘Not without my wild voice. What you do is wrong, unnecessary and ecologically inappropriate. You have said you don’t want my voice, so here it is.’ JOIN US BY WRITING A LETTER AND PROVIDING YOUR INPUT by 23 February:
    Steve Ryberg
    Evanston/Mt. View District Ranger
    Wasatch-Cache National Forest
    PO Box 1880
    Evanston, WY 82931
    or FAXED: Steve Ryberg, 307-7898639
    or EMAILED: comments-intermtn-wasatch-cache-evanston-mtnview@fs.fed.us
    Emailed messages must contain your name and address (or a scanned signature) in the text of your letter. Make sure your email mentions the East Fork Salvage DEIS. We’d appreciate your sending us a copy of your letter! Thank you.

High Uintas Preservation Council
PO Box 72
Hyrum, UT 84319
www.hupc.org

“Imagine a mountain defined by the creation of life, not the production of resources.”
High Uintas Preservation Council


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