USFS: Take out burned snags
The largest salvage logging project proposed on California national forest land since the late 1980s passed a milestone Monday.
That was the deadline for public comment on a tentative Tahoe National Forest proposal to remove dead trees, mainly by helicopter, from 3,100 acres burned last summer in the Star Fire in Placer County.
Another 4,000 acres may need salvage logging if fire-damaged trees continue to die, the proposal says.
Forest Service officials say if snags, or standing dead trees, aren’t removed, they’ll eventually topple over against each other like giant jackstraws. Brush will then grow underneath, creating a potential wildfire situation similar to a gigantic campfire across the landscape.
Besides contributing to fire intensity, snags can make firefighting harder, said Rich Johnson, the TNF’s Foresthill District ranger.
“When the snags catch on fire, it becomes very dangerous for fire crews, too,” he said. “When you have a lot of snags, it’s hard to put a good fire line in.”
Timber industry representative Chris Nance said Monday he hopes the Forest Service will look at a wide range of options in its environmental documentation.
But Nevada City environmentalist Brian Vincent challenged the need for salvage logging, especially in Duncan Canyon, a roadless area partially burned by the fire.
“There’s no evidence whatsoever that logging after a fire is going to prevent fires in the future,” said Vincent, of the nonprofit American Lands Alliance. He compared salvage logging to “mugging a burn victim” and said snags provide habitat for wildlife.
Nance, spokesman for the California Forestry Association, said salvage logging and reforestation could restore the forest in 50 to 80 years. Without it, “probably for a couple hundred years, we’ll be looking at burned timber and brush.”
Johnson said, “This is all just at the proposal stage. We haven’t made a decision yet.” TNF hopes to complete environmental documentation this summer.
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