KLAMATH FOREST ALLIANCE
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A group promoting a Citizens Alternative to Mountain Thin has delivered a petition to US Forest Service district ranger Mike Hupp protesting a proposed 800 acre timber harvest that is part of the Mountain Thin project. The group contends there was not sufficient notice for the project to allow citizens to make comments.
Mountain Thin has been four years in the making with a stated goal of fuels reduction and tree thinning to protect the city of Mount Shasta from a catastrophic fire and improve forest health.
The 3,200 acre project is intended to create a 10 mile long defensible fire zone, reduce the threat of fire and protect the watershed, viewshed, recreation areas and the city.
The citizens group contends that the 800 acres is a timber sale outside of the area that would protect the city from a fire and is unnecessary for city fire protection.
The Citizens Alternative also states that the road reconstruction required to harvest the timber would be unnecessary if the those acres are left untouched.
"New roads create more access and more fires", said representative Kathy Zavada.
The group does not contest the fuels reduction and thinning near the city or the harvesting of tree plantations.
"The proposed logging, harvest, thinning on 800 acres of mixed conifer stands is clearly a timber sale which does not provide the city with substantially greater fire protection in that these areas are quite some distance from the city", Zavada said.
The group calls for deleting the 800 acres from the project because they are pristine national forest and were initially preserved years ago for the well being of wildlife.
"We, the greater community of Mount Shasta, would like what's left of our national forests in this area preserved, and would like this plan modified so that the forests in our community are left intact for us to enjoy, and for the wildlife to endure", Zavada said.
"Of course it's a timber sale", said district ranger Mike Hupp. "How else would you remove it so that it's not wasted?"
Hupp said the harvest will provide fuel for biomass electrical generation and logs to build houses and provide the myriad of products we use that are made of wood.
Hupp said the 800 acres are overstocked stands in need of thinning and are at risk of beetle infestations.
He noted that a beetle infestation in another nearby forest in the 1980s caused the loss of millions of board feet of timber.
"It took years to clean up", Hupp said.
The Environmental Assessment for the area states, Endemic levels of mortality from bark beetles, root disease and dwarf mistletoe infection have been observed in the assessment area. Stocking in these stands exceeds or is approaching threshold levels where large, stand replacing losses from bark beetles is likely to occur.
"The project is strikingly similar to what the petitioners want", Hupp said. Healthy forests and protection of the scenic beauty, animal habitats and the watershed.
Hupp points out that the harvest takes the smaller trees leaving the larger healthier trees at 20 to 25 foot intervals. The forest floor will also be cleared of brush and other fuels.
"The average size of a stand increases by taking the smaller trees", Hupp said. The larger trees become healthier and it significantly reduces the risk of catastrophic fire.
Hupp also said, "It's an important point that you can't protect the city by ignoring the outlying areas."
Hupp said standing dead trees become high torches that ignite the canopy, spreading fires far beyond the immediate area.
He estimates that the project areas are approximately six miles from town as the crow flies and as they get further from Mount Shasta they get closer to McCloud, with a ski area in the middle.
"I would not, however, push the proximity to town as being a criteria. We selected the stands because of their condition and need for thinning in addition to the idea of treating fuels at the edge of town", Hupp said. The point is that a destructive fire or insect outbreak is just as damaging to the forest whether it occurs next to town or not.
Even with a protection buffer around town, creating conditions in the forest that favor the development of catastrophic fires can also put the town at risk, Hupp continued. A big fire can easily make a five mile run in an afternoon. That is hard to understand unless you have seen it happen.
As to the contention that citizens were not informed of the project in a timely manner, Forest Services records show that on 13 occasions since 2002 the Forest Service held scoping meetings, published public notices, held public reviews, met with local government bodies and conducted mass mailings.
The Mount Shasta Herald published three in-depth articles on the project.
Hupp said the Forest Service received and reviewed over 100 comments on the project.
California imports approximately 70 percent of its wood products, Hupp said. I would think people would support environmentally sound harvesting that reduces our consumption of other country's resources.
-- Following is a press release describing the proposed Citizen's Alternative to Mountain Thin:
In response to the proposed Mt. Thin Logging Project which was proposed by the Mt. Shasta area U.S. Forest Service, which would mean substantial logging of forests around the Mt. Shasta community, enough to create 5 million board feet of lumber, there has been substantial community opposition and the creation of a Citizen's Alternative.
The Citizen's Alternative, created by concerned citizens of the Mt. Shasta community, proposes a modification of the Mt. Thin project. It allows for the proposed fuel treatments which are close to the city, and which are not part of a lumber sale, but which truly to provide some fire protection on the east side of the city.
The proposed thinning of tree plantations was also acceptable in the Citizen's Alternative. What was not acceptable in the Citizen's Alternative was the proposal to log large areas of national forest in many areas of the county which are not close to the city limits, and which will not provide any substantial fire protection, areas of beautiful forest which are being sold to lumber companies for their economical benefit, not for fire protection.
If the large logging sale goes through, there would be the need to create or reconstruct 13 miles of logging roads for hauling timber, which the community's tax dollars essentially pay for. If the Mt. Thin project was modified according to the Citizen's Alternative, we would not need to reconstruct all the 13 miles of roads supposedly needed for hauling timber that was proposed, and thus we could save our tax dollars and not bring in more noise, impact the wildlife, and increase chances of fire started by humans by creating new roads in the forest.
There have been a large number of signatures supporting the Citizen's Alternative, which was recently presented to Michael Hupp, the district ranger in charge of the Mt. Thin Project, at the U.S. Forest Service.
One of the issues regarding the Mt. Thin logging project that was a point of contention was the lack of information presented to the community disclosing the project. Many people said they found out about the proposed logging sale through the March 17th article in the paper and only had two weeks to become educated and respond before the deadline given for comments of April 1st.
Numerous environmental organizations are behind the Citizen's Alternative to modify and reduce logging plans around Mt. Shasta, including the Klamath Forest Alliance.
For more information regarding the Citizen's Alternative e-mail Citizen's Alternative at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also send your comments to Michael Hupp, Mt. Shasta Ranger Station District, 204 West Alma St., Mt. Shasta, CA 96067 or send an e-mail to email@example.com.
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Forest Service Affirms Mountain Thin