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HIGH UINTAS PRESERVATION COUNCIL ALERT WEST FORK BEAR TIMBER SALE PROPOSAL

Good HUPC Members and Friends,

The Evanston Ranger District on the Wasatch-Cache National Forest is proposing yet another major timber sale!
The district is proposing to harvest over nearly 1,700 acres of old spruce, lodgepole pine, subalpine fir and aspen on the West Fork of the Bear River (from Humpy Creek/Whitney Reservoir on the east to the Mirror Lake Highway on the west.)

Comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) are due September 30 and should be sent to:
Steve Ryberg
District Ranger
Evanston Ranger District
Wasatch-Cache National Forest
P. O. Box 1880
Evanston, WY 82931
or by email:
mailto:comments-intermtn-wasatch-cache-evanston-mtnview@fs.fed.us
(Clearly note “West Bear Vegetation Management Project” in the subject line)

THE PROPOSAL

Within the 16,000 acre West Fork Bear River landscape, the Forest Service proposes to:

  • Harvest over 1,600 acres in 38 units of old growth and mature spruce, fir, aspen and lodgepole pine to achieve “properly functioning condition.” -Believe it or not, all of this harvesting would be on a Management Prescription (MP 5.1) that allows harvesting on lands found to be UNSUITABLE for timber harvesting (lands not designated for sustainable timber harvesting).
  • Burn over 500 acres of aspen, most of it after conifers have been harvested!
  • Construct 7.8 miles of new, “temporary” roads to be open for the duration of the project and then rehabilitated.

This proposal is a multi-year project and could extend for well over a decade and occur in a Lynx Analysis Unit (lynx are a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.) The DEIS concedes wildlife habitat for lynx, woodpeckers, and many other species would be denigrated!

HOW YOU CAN HELP

The most important thing you can do is let you wild voice sing. While no roadless areas are involved in the harvesting proposal, almost all of the forests to be harvested would require temporary road construction to access them. The West Bear landscape is composed of discontinuous forest stands broken by massive sagebrush/grass/forbs and parklands with elevations around 9,000-10,000 feet. Thus the threat of escaping wild fire is minimal and forested insect impacts are of less concern because of the discontinuous stands of trees. The area is a roaded landscape and a primary snowmobile and ATV recreational destination. Nonetheless, the headwaters are within a roadless area and much of the area is still unharvested and recognized as an important wildlife corridor. According to the DEIS, the primary reason the area is not considered to be “properly functioning” has been past Forest Service management of not allowing fires to burn in areas where fire defines the structure of the forest!

+Suggest the Evanston Ranger District:

  1. Harvest ONLY in the SUITABLE timber base, using small uneven aged harvests to protect wildlife habitat.
  2. Harvest only from the existing roads— NO new temporary or intermittent road construction to protect watersheds, lynx and minimize wildlife fragmentation.
  3. CLOSE the area to snowmobiling and ATV use over the life of the project to protect lynx habitat and other wildlife values while logging occurs.
  4. Utilize prescribed and managed wildland fire to mimic natural ecological processes.

A letter might look like this (cut, paste, add or subtract as you please):
+++++++++++++
Dear Mr. Ryberg:

I have a few comments on the West Fork Bear River timber sale proposal. Thank you for preparing a draft EIS and for assuring no timber harvesting or road building occurs on the roadless headwaters country.
Nonetheless, the proposal requires substantial road construction that will be in place for at least a decade. The West Bear landscape is composed of discontinuous forest stands being broken by massive sagebrush/grass/forb meadows and parklands with elevations around 9,000-10,000 feet. Thus, the threat of escaping wildfire is minimal and forested insect impacts are of less concern because of the discontinuous stands of trees. Much of the area is recognized as an important wildlife corridor.

To protect these values and recognize the ecology of the area, please harvest only in the suitable timber base with small uneven aged harvesting techniques, without any new temporary road construction, and with the primary emphasis being on utilizing prescribed and wildland fire to mimic natural ecological processes. It has been past management practices that have made the area “dysfunctional” so future management must emphasize natural processes rather than heavy-handed Forest Service management.

Sincerely,
++++++++++++++++++++
Thank you! Please write with your own wild voice! Remember, comments are due September 30.

High Uintas Preservation Council
P. O. Box 72
Hyrum, UT 84319
hupc.org


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