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COMMENTS NEEDED! ASHLEY NATIONAL FOREST PROPOSES TROUT SLOPE WEST TIMBER SALES

The Ashley National Forest, Vernal Ranger District, is taking comments on the TROUT SLOPE WEST TIMBER PROJECT DRAFT EIS (DEIS).

JOIN US BY WRITING A LETTER AND LET YOUR WILD VOICE SING BY 12 APRIL!
Letters should be sent to:
George Weldon,
Forest Supervisor
Attn: Trout Slope West
Ashley National Forest
355 N. Vernal Ave.
Vernal, UT 84078

or EMAILED: comments-intermtn-ashley@fs.fed.us
Emailed messages must contain your name and address (or a scanned signature) in the text of your letter. Make sure the subject line and the body of your email mention the Trout Slope West Timber Project DEIS.

The PROPOSAL by the Forest Service is to harvest dead, dying, mistletoe-infected trees, damaged live trees and some healthy live trees in the 18,500 acre area between Oaks Park Reservoir (Big Brush Creek) west to Long Park Reservoir (N. Fork Ashley Creek). Almost 2,100 acres would be treated in seven different timber sale proposals.

The area is roaded and logged already with many of the old clearcuts visible from satellite photographic images. Most of the harvesting would be single tree selection, some overstory removal and very little if any new clearcutting. No roadless areas will be entered and no new roads will be constructed.

Ten miles of temporary roads, presently closed, would be re-opened to access timber treatment areas, most of which are adjacent to extant clearcuts.

The GOOD STUFF with the proposal is:
The decision to stay out of roadless areas with any harvesting and roads, locating harvesting units in already logged areas and focusing on selective, overstory and some ìsanitationî logging techniques rather than large clearcuts.

The BAD STUFF with the proposal is:

  1. Amazingly enough, this analysis harbors three alternatives (one being "no action") in addition to the proposed action.
    THEY ARE IDENTICAL IN EVERY CONTEXT TO THE PROPOSED ACTION WITH RESPECT TO TIMBER HARVESTING, WITH THE EXCEPTION OF ADMINISTERING THE 10 MILES OF PRESENTLY CLOSED, TEMPORARY ROADS:
    • the proposed action closes the 10 miles of roads but keeps them part of the forest road system.
    • Alternative 2, open public access alternative, upgrades and opens the 10 miles of roads.
    • Alterative 3, roads closed alternative, permanently closes the roads.

    Talk about the proverbial "done deal!" By law and regulation the Forest Service must analyze an ARRAY of alternatives dealing with the proposed action, in this case timber harvesting. They didnít even try, but simply said, in essence, 'we will access the forest stands, harvest timber on 2,100 acres and produce some 9 million board feet for timber companies in each alternative.'

  2. The DEIS notes that a "patchwork of clearcuts dominates much of the Trout Slope landscape" with most of the intact old growth and potential habitat in the analysis area that is important for goshawk, Canada lynx, three-toed woodpecker, and great gray owl being on the western end of the area on the North Fork Ashley Creek drainage (the DEIS refers to this as Area 3). Yet the Forest Service proposes further fragmenting this area with timber harvesting and access, arguing that while the habitat is there, the species may not be there. But that is just the point - protecting the habitat is required to assure the species can utilize it now or sometime in the future. The agency argues that if logging proceeds species may leave the area and utilize other adjacent habitat. Yet, at the same time, it is noted there is not adjacent habitat and that it may well be occupied where it exists! The DEIS fails to note that the roads could be used for up to 15 years, depending upon length of timber contracts.

  3. The Ashley set the purpose of the sale so tight - providing logs to local sawmillsthat, unless you own a logging company, YOUR VOICE HAS BEEN ELIMINATED! The economic analysis in the DEIS completely ignores non-market resource values and even notes that logging related jobs in the area account for barely 0.2% of total jobs in the county!
WHAT A GOOD DECISION WOULD DO
  1. The DEIS notes the best alternative to assure minimal impacts to soils, water quality, watersheds, wildlife and fisheries is the NO ACTION alternative along with a permanent closure of the 10 miles of temporary roads.
  2. At the same time, it is clear the most important area of old growth and sensitive wildlife species is the western portion of the project area, Area 3, on the North Fork of Ashley Creek. No timber sales should be offered there and all of the 10 miles of roads in the project area should be permanently closed and allowed to revegetate.

LET YOUR WILD VOICE SING!


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