For Immediate Release, October 20, 2009
Contact: Jay Lininger, (928) 853-9929, firstname.lastname@example.org
Grand Canyon Old-growth Logging Plan Revived
Kaibab Forest Revises Jacob Ryan Analysis
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz.— The Center for Biological Diversity today sharply criticized a new U.S. Forest Service analysis of plans to log old-growth ponderosa pine forests north of Grand Canyon. The Kaibab National Forest issued a revised environmental assessment for the 26,000-acre Jacob Ryan timber sale on Friday.
The analysis slightly changes a 2008 proposal for the Jacob Ryan sale by dropping protections for old-growth trees, and adds new justification for a plan that agency foresters said violated environmental laws when they upheld an appeal filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and Sierra Club in May. It states that stands of large trees are overly abundant on the Kaibab Plateau, and that logging them to create openings and younger forest will benefit wildlife.
Logging in the forest surrounding Jacob Lake is contentious because the Kaibab Plateau hosts the largest breeding population of sensitive northern goshawk in the lower 48 states, and past logging in the area removed large areas of its old-growth forest habitat. In 1996, the Forest Service adopted protective measures for the raptor to prevent its listing under the Endangered Species Act.
Kaibab forest supervisor Mike Williams determined in May that the Jacob Ryan sale could not go forward because environmentalists had raised serious questions about its compliance with required goshawk protections.
“Now the Forest Service says it must log old-growth forest to protect goshawk,” said Jay Lininger, a Center ecologist in Flagstaff. “We know the opposite is true.”
|Center for Biological Diversity ecologist Jay Lininger displays core of 180-year-old ponderosa pine marked for logging at Jacob Ryan timber sale. Center photo.
This is the agency’s fourth attempt to implement Jacob Ryan, first planned in 1998. Lininger said the current iteration is more like the earliest one, with less protection for wildlife and what he called “the best remaining stands of ponderosa pine old-growth in the Southwest.”
Independent sampling of trees marked for removal in the timber sale showed that logging would occur in stands up to 200 years old, according to Lininger.
Despite the disagreement over old trees and wildlife habitat, Lininger said the Center supports elements of the Jacob Ryan Project that would thin small trees that grew up after decades of fire suppression and restore controlled fire to the forest.
“Fire-adapted forests at the Grand Canyon need to burn, and it’s better to get a handle on it with active management now than wait for a big blow-up,” he said.
The Jacob Ryan sale occurs adjacent to the 40,000-acre Warm Fire of 2006, where a naturally ignited fire was allowed to burn and then blackened old-growth forests more severely than managers expected after prevailing winds shifted. The Forest Service approved post-fire logging on 9,116 acres of the Warm Fire, a move that environmentalists challenged in federal court.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 240,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.