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Biscuit Fire Timber Sale Public Hearing, comments still needed

On December 17, 2003, in what seemed to be a rather bland setting, the one and ONLY four hour public hearing took place regarding the BISCUIT FIRE RECOVERY PROJECT, the largest proposed timber sale in modern history by the USDA's USFS and the DOI's BLM.
Biscuit Fire Hearing Setting
Biscuit Fire Hearing Setting
Public Hearing or appeasement of the process to get the cut out?


On December 17, 2003, in what seemed to be a rather bland setting, the one and ONLY four hour public hearing took place regarding the BISCUIT FIRE RECOVERY PROJECT, the largest proposed timber sale in modern history by the USDA's USFS and the DOI's BLM. The Biscuit Fire took place in southern Oregon and northern California, began on July 13, 2002 and reached 499,965acres and was controlled on November 9, 2002 (120 days).

The public was greeted by the Forest Service's own public relations employees or were they? As one entered the fairground building, to the left was the sign in sheet for those wanting to watch, to the right, those who wanted a chance to speak. It felt almost as everyone was forced to share who he or she was and where he or she lives.

Speakers of the public wishing to provide public comment were given only 3 minutes to speak. Let me remind you, this is not just a small 40-acre proposed clear-cut timber sale on a steep hillside with a little controversy, this sucker is enormous. This is a proposed project of a HALF-BILLION board feet of so-called timber recovery with an estimated cost to the taxpayers of 150 million dollars. The project is to be the BIGGEST public subsidy to the timber industry since the Tongass NF giveaways in the eighties. The Biscuit Fire Recovery Project scoping process has taken place during the holiday season, with the spoken public comment period occurring a week before Christmas. Close to eighty speakers spoke throughout the evening. A stenographer sat at the table next to the two men representing the agencies in charge of these projects. Additionally, a USFS employee kept time and another was there to cut off anyone going over the three-minute time limit.

An overwhelming majority of the speakers stated this project was out of control. Speakers ranged from landowners adjacent to the project, knowledgeable ecologists, citizen groups, and a few timber contractors. One recovery logger even was outraged by the scope and size of the project. Having worked in the woods most of his life, he was perplexed at how this project was even being considered. He recommended it to be scrapped or scaled back to the alternative 4 option without the science leveling RESEARCH FACET proposed. The research facet is a proposal to clear-cut selected areas and start a scientific study on the effects of a burned area heavily logged and what its regeneration potential is.

Who is in Charge?

Jim Reuwsaat from the Medford BLM District sat at the front of the hearing along with his equal COUNTERPART from the US Forest dis-Service. Scott Conroy, the USFS project coordinator, sat idly at the table throughout the public hearing. Many came to look the two in the eyes to let them know their concerns over this controversial project. Occasionally, Mr. Reuesaat would jot down a note or two regarding individuals testimonial concerns. However, one wasn't too sure whether he was penciling into his weekly planner important appointments he had scheduled in the weeks to come with folks back in Washington D.C. or whether he was actually making notes of concerns.

Meanwhile, Mr. Conroy sat blank with little expression, almost as if he knew, get past this four hours and I'm home free to assault the forests and set myself up with a private sector job with a big timber company once this project has gotten the cut out. A few spoke at the hearing about the logging industry lobbyist and current Undersecretary of Agriculture, Mark Rey as being the man with the plan for this scheme in Washington. The Bush administration or someone seems in a frenzy to avoid legal challenges to these timber giveaways at a time when the lumber market is already suppressed and overflowing with abundant products. (SEE HTTP://WWW.WHITEHOUSE.GOV/INFOCUS/HEALTHYFORESTS OR HTTP://WWW.FS.FED.US/PROJECTS/HFI ) Its rumored little George's administration in D.C. is keeping a close eye on how the salvage sale plays out.

The two men sat disinterested looking while a majority of the speakers opposed the project, but spoke from the heart. Many did not speak to the effects that the project has placed the burden on the public to prove why the science behind the selection of the proposed alternative in this project is flawed. Most seemed to not realize that this process required them to get into the record substantive comments which could be challenged in a legal process. Many were barely provided information on how the process works. The only material sets out by the Federal agencies were blown up maps on a table guarded by the cops. A copy of the draft environmental impact statement was only to be seen by one member of the public who provided on point arguments within the document, which contradicted itself and seemed to provide reasons why this project should be scrapped. The agencies are not required to provide the whole document regarding the sale at the public hearing.

Seven Alternatives to the Biscuit Sale

One: No Action. Describes area as it will evolve with existing policies, but with no active salvage, only natural reforestation, and no fuels management.

Two: Salvage in matrix only, mid-range in terms of reforestation, fuels and roads management. Stand Scale learning study. HARVEST: 5,169 ACRES WITH AN ESTIMATED POTENTIAL RECOVERY OF 82 MILLION BOARD FEET (MMBF). FMZ (FUEL MANAGEMENT ZONE) CONSTRUCTION WOULD MAKE AN ADDITIONAL 14 MMBF COMMERCIALLY AVAILABLE. TOTAL OF (96MMBF)

Three: Emphasizes timber subsidies. Salvage logging in matrix and old growth forest. No fuels or road management. No thinning of the forest near structures. Includes clear cutting of tracts of forest to supposedly study effects of fire and clearcuts. HARVEST: A TOTAL 251 MMBF OF TIMBER WOULD BE MADE AVAILABLE FROM 16,753 ACRES.

Four: Modeled after Beschta (HTTP://WWW.SAVEAMERICASFORESTS.ORG/CONGRESS/FIRE/BESCHTA-REPORT.HTM ) report. Scientific report written in 1995 regarding the flaws in forest mis-management of lands post fire and problems associated with doing recovery based on getting the cut out. Conservative salvage, reforestation, roads and fuel management. Includes clear cutting of tracts of forest to supposedly study effects of fire and clear-cuts. HARVEST: 105 mmbf would be made available from 7,290 acres.

Five: Mid-range salvaging of old growth and reforestation includes logging old growth to replant in a matrix fashion; fuels and road management all maximized. Includes clear cutting of tracts of forest to supposedly study effects of fire and clear cuts. HARVEST: 133 MMBF of dead timber cut from matrix, LSR and FMZs.

Six: Modeled after wise-use George Sessions, an Oregon State University forest engineer who prepared a report paid for by the Douglas County Commissioners (the Biscuit fire did not affect Douglas County) for this timber sale. Maximum salvage of old growth forest and tree plantation reforestation, including Inventoried Roadless Areas. Includes clear cutting of tracts of forest to supposedly study effects of fire and clear cuts. HARVEST: 1.02 BILLION BOARD FEET (BBF) OF TIMBER WOULD BE SALVAGE HARVESTED FROM 59,328 ACRES.

Seven: Enters Inventoried Old Growth Roadless Areas, maximizes effects of disturbing Roadless area. Blends alternative 3 old growth logging theme with alternative 5 fire/road restoration theme and extends alternative 5into some inventoried Roadless areas. Included are clear cutting of tracts of forest to supposedly study effects of fire and clear cuts. If the most aggressive salvage proposal were implemented, the total amount of land recruited into intensive management silvicultural development would be approximately 68,000 acres including nearly 50,000 ac of Roadless areas and nearly 18,000 ac of other special management lands.

Preferred Alternative is option seven according to the Freddies!

Seven: THREATENING to drive chainsaws into the heart of the Siskiyou Wild Rivers AREA, the extreme "preferred alternative" in the DEIS would:
*log 518 million board feet of trees about twice all the logging on National Forests in Oregon and Washington last year combined
*log 12,000 acres of Inventoried Roadless Areas - including the beautiful, wild North and South Kalmiopsis roadless forests
*degrade a total of 57,000 acres of Inventoried Roadless Areas --LIKELY preventing them from being protected as Wilderness in the future
*increase fire risk by removing large trees and leaving behind flammable slash on the ground
*harm natural rejuvenation of native trees and plants
*harm sensitive soils and increase erosion
*artificially plant tens of thousands of acres -- contaminating the world-class diversity of the Siskiyou Wild Rivers area. Roadless areas to be hammered.

Thousands of acres within the Biscuit Fire's boundary have no roads and never have been logged. These are the areas that Clinton set-aside during his tenure in 2001 under the Roadless conservation ruling. The Bush administration is determined to subsidize the logging industry while driving down timber prices to an all time low. The mills in the area of the proposed cut cannot handle the amount of lumber to be cut by this project. Allowing a great deal of the timber to be shipped out of the area and process in mills far away from the region. The other option is that a boom bust economy will occur. Higher rates of work and triple shifts for a short period of time until the lumber is processed and the logs dry up and families of the mill worker will once again be faced with where to find a sustainable job.

At Bush's urging, the Roadless conservation rule would likely vanish, in large part because the present administration has refused to defend it against legal challenges brought by big timber. A federal lawsuit by the timber industry ruled against the Roadless rule in July. If the decision survives appeal, logging would be legal in Roadless areas within the Biscuit burn.

Assuming that case stands, the Forest Service's co-opted plan would permit logging of more than 12,000 acres of Roadless forest, that would influence a even bigger area, and would disqualify a total of 57,000 acres from the Roadless designation within the biscuit burn. .

The large Roadless areas north and south of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness would shrivel, and two smaller Roadless areas would lose their Roadless distinction altogether. This should give pause to the public, what really is the purpose and intent of this salvage logging and its overall effect? If roads go in those areas, they no longer can be considered for expansion of the forest's wilderness.

The Kalmiopsis Wilderness, much of which burned in the center of the massive fire, contains 179,000 acres of the Siskiyous. Environmentally friendly groups have sought to protect the area called the Siskiyou Wild Rivers, which includes parts of the Rogue and Illinois rivers. These two rivers are listed as federal wild and scenic rivers. The rivers contain a WIDE array of botanical plants and amazing geological formations dating back to the glaciations period.

Is a battle brewing?

Looming in the background and outside the fairground building were a dozen law enforcement officials from the city of Grants Pass, along with the Josephine County sheriffs and the timid USFS Federal Agents. Why so much law enforcement presence? Noticing the police uniforms might tell a little of the story. The patches on the Josephine Sheriffs arm logos tell a telling story where this process is heading. The logo has a clear-cut on it with a lumber truck hauling out raw logs from the cut.

A few courageous folks spoke of China Left (WWW.UMPQUA-WATERSHEDS.ORG/PROTEST/CHINALEFT.HTML) at the Biscuit hearing. According to the Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Center in Oct. 1997, the China Left Timber Sale was awarded to Rough and Ready lumber in 1995, the majority of the sale had already been clear-cut but these five units were delayed for consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service and were the only ones within a Late Successional Reserve. China Left was included in the infamous 318 rider "from hell" which exempted numerous Roadless area and Old Growth sales from judicial review, prompting massive direct action in 1996 and 1997 to prevent the further destruction of prime Old Growth habitat in the Klamath Siskiyou bioregion.

A few individuals spoke and said they would meet again on the front lines should the sale come to fruition. The direct action seems to be brewing at a time when the snow and rainfall prevents the public from assessing much of this controversial sale.

One of the few who spoke in favor of the sale, asked to bring on the war. "If we have to have a war, to take back our forest, from a non-management future of destruction" He claimed the two men proposing the project had been verbally assaulted throughout the night. Having been to dozens of public hearings, let us just say that this hearing was fairly tame and mild. All who spoke did it with dignity and respect considering the enormity of this preposterous project. He pleaded that the timber wars should resume. The wise-use guy promoted POLARIZATION of the community and requested an all out assault on the community challenging this disastrous project.

PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD EXTENDED TO JANUARY 20,2004. Provide comment to:  r6_biscuit@fs.fed.us

Make sure your comments are "substantive", or they will likely be disregarded. This means "comments that are within the scope of the proposed action, are specific to the proposed action, have a direct relationship to the proposed action, and include supporting reasons for the Responsible Official to consider."
Provide new information pertaining to any alternative
Identify a new relevant issue or expand upon an existing issue
Identify a different way (alternative) and/or modify existing alternatives considered
Develop and evaluate alternatives not previously considered to meet the underlying need
Identify a specific flaw in the analysis to assist us in making factual corrections, and/or supplement, improve or modify our analysis
Ask a specific relevant question that can be meaningfully answered or referenced
Identify an additional source of credible research, which if utilized, could result in different effects



homepage: homepage: http://www.consbio.org/cbi/services/biscuit/biscuit.htm

cops lingering at biscuit public hearing 06.Jan.2004 14:58


In a show of force, over a dozen cops and one canine unit showed up for the one time public hearing on the largest timber sale in modern history. The show of force left one wondering whether this was democracy or whether we are moving closer to a dictatorship.
Cops at hearing
Cops at hearing

about writing comment letters 06.Jan.2004 16:32


Should we be sending copies of our comments to any particular group?

sned fax or email 06.Jan.2004 23:21

zero cut

The Bush Forest Service has unleashed plans for massive logging of sensitive Biscuit fire affected forests in the Siskiyou Wild Rivers area. The "preferred alternative" in the recently released Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) proposes 518 million board feet of logging across 29,090 acres - including 12,000 acres of logging in Inventoried Roadless Areas.

This is the most extreme, unbalanced, massive logging operation in the modern history of our National Forests.

The preferred alternative is greater than the combined logging of all National Forests in the Pacific Northwest last year. The most extreme proposal in the DEIS includes 1.02 billion board feet of logging - enough to create a line of logging trucks 2,700 miles long reaching from Portland, Oregon to the East Coast.

Adding insult to injury, the public has been given a miserly 60 days to comment on these massive logging plans - the deadline is Tuesday, January 20, 2004.

Don't let the Bush Forest Service drive chainsaws into the heart of the Siskiyou Wild Rivers area - take action now!

 link to www.actionstudio.org

Not controversial enough 07.Jan.2004 00:57


This timber sale is the worst project ever concieved by the Forest Service or BLM. That's saying a lot. I mean, we are talking THE WORST EVER. For those of you who have ever tracked this agency, imagine 15 timber sales all combined, with entire watershes as units. And the Landscape is great. It is a REALLY wild place. So much diversity. Wet old-growth forests, dry red rock deserts, rare plants and more different conifers than you can shake a stick at. Oh, yeah, theres some of the wildest rivers and biggest salmon you'll find anywhere to boot.

You should come to Biscuit or one of the nearby BLM timber sales this summer and check it out. It may be a bit of a drive, but worth it. Not all of the area burned - it is still an amazing place. And much of what burned hot were dry places, with knobcone pine that requires high severity fire. The Forest Service has mapped lots of green forests for cut.

This deforestation plan must be derailed.

send your comments and beware of unsavory compromises 07.Jan.2004 12:02


In response to quill's question, comments are to be sent to: Scott Conroy, care of ACT2 Enterprise Team, P. O. Box 377, Happy Camp, CA 96039, faxed to (530) 493-1776, or e-mailed to:  r6_biscuit@fs.fed.us. The DEIS is posted on the Internet at "www.biscuitfire.com.

Does anyone know a good place to look for sample comments, or guidelines for comments for this. Many people may want to be able to submit comments (and yes, it's much better if they are substantial), but a lot of folks won't have time to wade through the bulk of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. I saw a sample letter on the ONRC site, but it was very general and in my opinion, not strongly worded enough. I felt that the ONRC sample letter was basically saying Alternative 4 is just fine and dandy if the "clearcuts for scientific research" part is taken out. While taking out the "clearcuts for science" part (of alternative four) would undoubtably be an improvement, it would not go far enough in protecting this area. I think we really need to watch out for an unfortunate compromise on this timber sale. There will undoubtably be some groups who will try to look "reasonable" by supporting a version of the Biscuit sale that's only half as big, or one the doesn't have clearcuts but still has the overall effect of trashing the post-fire landscape. So far, there is NO "restoration only" alternative in the DEIS. This is something that people may want to include in their comments. For example, "I would support a restoration alternative with no logging. This alternative would include: then you say how many miles of roads should be closed/stabilized, non-toxic noxious weed control, allowing natural revegetation to occur throughout most of the project area, etc..." Perhaps it would also be a good idea to set up some long term scientific studies of the naturally transforming post-fire landscape.

I highly recommend folks look at the Beschta report link mentioned above because it gives a great rundown on the many problems caused by post-fire salvage logging.

give us a sample letter, please! 07.Jan.2004 12:12

solid gold

yeah, a sample letter would be great, since again, not everyone is up to snuff on the DEP's guidelines and the specifics of the sale, but still want to help save this area. somebody please, throw up a sample letter.

Northwest Ecosystem Alliance callout 09.Jan.2004 15:49


#91 WILD NORTHWEST, January 9, 2004
A Message from the Northwest Ecosystem Alliance
=====Keeping the Northwest Wild=====

Biggest Timber Sale in History Planned for Oregon
Forest Service plans industrial logging within the Biscuit Fire zone

The Forest Service has released plans for massive "salvage" logging in forests affected by the 2002 Biscuit burn in the Siskiyou National Forest. From this one area, the government plans to cut an astounding 518 million board feet across 30,000 acres, including 12,000 acres of inventoried roadless areas -- more forest than they logged across all Pacific Northwest national forests last year. Old-growth reserves, wild and scenic rivers, unstable slopes, and green unburned forests are all at risk under this radical logging plan.

Please raise your voice against extreme post-fire logging in the Siskiyou!
Send comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement by January 20.

You can fax official comments to the Forest Service instantly from  link to www.actionstudio.org

Or send comments yourself to:
Scott Conroy, Forest Supervisor c/o ACT2
PO Box 377, Happy Camp, CA 96039-0377
Email:  r6_biscuit@fs.fed.us
Fax: (530) 493-1775 or (530) 493-1776
Phone: (541) 858-2200

For talking points, go to www.ecosystem.org/nationalforests/biscuit_fire.html
For an ecological assessment of logging plans, please go to www.consbio.org/cbi/services/biscuit/biscuit.htm
A copy of the DEIS can be found on the Siskiyou National Forest's website, www.biscuitfire.com
For more on the status of the Roadless Rule as the law of the land, go to www.ourforests.org/roadless/status.html

Please let us know that you took action. And thank you for speaking up for our national forests!

Erin Moore
Communications Coordinator, Systems Administrator
Northwest Ecosystem Alliance
1208 Bay St., Ste. 201
Bellingham, WA 98225
360.671.9950 ext. 24

Keeping the Northwest wild. For further information, please visit our website, www.ecosystem.org.

salvage sale 15.Jan.2004 20:53

bob sproul eflc@uci.net

i am currently logging hazard trees along the some of the road systems. Just nippling along the edges of the fire. Does anyone really realize how large this fire was? Its huge and one of the saddest things to ever happen. It is a very a special area. Already we have put over a million dollars into the economy. No sense in not harvesting some of it.