Star Fire cleanup unveiled
The Tahoe National Forest released its plan Thursday for salvage logging and restoration work on 10,000 acres burned by the Star Fire, a month-long blaze that raged a little more than a year ago east of Foresthill.
Environmentalists have already sued over the Eldorado National Forest’s salvage logging plan for some 2,000 acres burned on that forest by the Star Fire.
TNF officials expect environmentalists will sue over their plan, too. During project planning, the TNF received more than 4,000 form letters and e-mails.
But TNF officials say they propose a very conservative cut. “There are going to be more old, dead trees left on site than taken out,” said TNF spokeswoman Ann Westling.
Loggers won’t cut a burned tree as long as it has one green needle left. Helicopter logging, easier on the soil than tractor logging, will be used to remove dead trees from 80 percent of the area. No trees will be removed from roughly 40 percent of the acreage in order to protect soil, streams and wildlife such as the goshawk and California spotted owl.
One major objective is to reduce the amount of fire-killed trees that could fuel a future catastrophic wildfire, said TNF Supervisor Steve Eubanks.
“As dead trees fall amidst the re-growth of grass and brush over the next 30-plus years, we will have major wildfire potential that could wipe out the young trees, leaving brush fields for hundreds of years,” Eubanks said.
Cedar Ridge environmentalist Chad Hanson, who heads the John Muir Project, said the TNF’s proposal is “just another timber sale … and they’re calling it a fuel reduction.”
Hanson said the TNF plan includes helicopter logging on more than 2,000 acres of the Duncan Canyon roadless area, which could make it ineligible for wilderness designation currently proposed in Congress.
He said loggers will leave slash, or logging debris, on more than half of the area and “the only scientific study that’s looked at salvage logging without removing slash found that it increased (future) fire intensity.”
Environmentalists have 45 days to appeal. Salvage logging could begin in April.
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