The US Forest Service is proposing to log 90 million board feet of trees from sensitive, Biscuit Fire affected forests in the Siskiyou Wild Rivers area.
90 million board feet of trees, on log trucks parked end-to-end would reach from the southern Oregon Siskiyou Mountains to Portland. In plans released March 18th 2003, the Forest Service also proposed an unspecified amount of logging, non-native tree planting and road building across tens of thousands of miles - all at a loss to tax-payers.
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"Nothing about this plan makes sense" said Rolf Skar of the Siskiyou Project. "We didn't need to log Yellowstone after it burned. The Siskiyou Wild Rivers area depends on fire, and is rejuvenating naturally. Why should we trash it at tax-payer expense?"
"There is no scientific basis for this proposal" said Dominick DellaSalla, Ph.D., director of the World Wildlife Fund's Klamath-Siskiyou office in Ashland. "Quadrupling logging levels on the Siskiyou National Forest will doing nothing to help communities become firewise. Salvage logging is one of the most destructive types of logging activities - it removes both live and dead big trees, leaving behind flammable logging slash and delaying post-fire recovery. This is yet another move by the Bush administration to gut environmental protections for the globally-significant Siskiyou Wild Rivers area."
When renowned outdoor guide and author William Sullivan explored forests affected by the Biscuit Fire, he found a natural, diverse mosaic of burn patterns. "In the wilderness and surrounding old growth areas, the Biscuit fire burned nearly everything at ground level, but left most of the large trees green and healthy. Some areas in the biscuit fire totally remained unburned, especially along creeks and in valleys."
These observations are reinforced by modern mapping technology. "Recent analysis of the burn pattern has shown the Biscuit Fire to be consistent with historical fire behavior. The fire burned with a mixed severity, creating diversity and leaving thousands of acres healthier than pre-fire" said Erik Fernandez, cartographer with Oregon Natural Resources Council. According to the Forest Service, 61% of the nearly 500,000 acres within the Biscuit Fire perimeter were either unburned or experienced a low-intensity burn.
Conservationists have worked to permanently protect the Siskiyou Wild Rivers area since legendary conservationist Bob Marshall first championed a National Park for the area in the 1930s. The Siskiyou Wild Rivers area contains:
- the largest concentration of Wild & Scenic Rivers and candidate rivers in the nation
- the most botanically diverse National Forest in the nation (Siskiyou National Forest)
- largest complex of Wilderness and unprotected roadless areas on the Pacific coast
- Oregon's most botanically-rich watershed
- a refuge for the last, best wild salmon and trout on the West Coast
A coalition of conservation groups led by the Siskiyou Project, is advocating a Siskiyou Wild Rivers National Conservation Area to protect the threatened area for future generations.
"Free flowing rivers, wild salmon, rare plants and globally outstanding biological diversity are the true wealth of the Siskiyou Wild Rivers area, not a pile of burned logs for an over-supplied timber market" said Skar.
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