Center for Biological Diversity

Protecting endangered species and wild places of western North America
and the Pacific through science, policy, education, and environmental law.

February 13, 2001
CONTACT: Brian Segee, Center for Biological Diversity, (520) 623-5252 x308
Todd Schulke, Center for Biological Diversity, (505) 388-8799


In response to an appeal filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, the Forest Service's Regional Offices in Albuquerque have once again withdrawn the Corner Mountain fire "salvage" timber sale on the Gila National Forest. The sale, approved by Gila Forest Supervisor Marcia Andre in November, would have clearcut 2 ½ million board feet of ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir on 340 acres. The appeal was upheld because the Gila failed to respond to CBD's comments on the proposed logging. These comments included substantial evidence that salvage logging increases erosion and sedimentation into rivers and streams, damages soils, and adversely impacts numerous "management indicator species," including many cavity-nesting songbirds.

CBD has vigorously opposed Corner Mountain since its inception because it would establish a precedent of allowing logging operations in prescribed burn areas. The trees to be logged burned in the fall of 1998 when a 200 acre prescribed natural fire burned a larger area than planned in the Mogollon Mountains northeast of Glenwood. When implemented properly, prescribed burns are an important method to slowly reintroduce fire, restore ecological integrity, and reduce the threat of catastrophic fire to forest communities. The Gila conducts the Forest Service's most aggressive prescribed burn policy and eventually hopes to burn one million areas a year. "Salvage logging in prescribed burn areas undermines the Forest Service's own restoration goals. We hope this decision will finally convince the Gila National Forest to cancel this sale," said Brian Segee, Forest Watch Coordinator with CBD.

Additionally, the Forest Service has never adequately addressed the sale's effects on wildlife species. This failure is especially troubling with respect to songbird species, many of which depend on the thousands of large "snags," or standing dead trees, which Corner Mountain would have logged. A recent Forest Service review of scientific literature found 100% of coniferous nesting songbirds in New Mexico to be in decline. "Burned forests are much more than a commodity," stated Segee. "Fires create important habitat for a wide array of wildlife, especially our imperiled songbirds," continued Segee.

Fire salvage timber sales, especially clearcuts such as Corner Mountain, are a highly damaging form of logging. Salvage logging has been shown in scientific studies to compact fragile soils, leading to increased levels of erosion and sedimentation in streams and rivers. Because of these concerns, some scientists have called for a prohibition on mechanized logging and road building within fire areas. "We hope this second appeal decision is the end of the Corner Mountain proposal. The job of restoring our forests is much too important to be spending time on outdated and damaging salvage sales," stated Todd Schulke, restoration coordinator with CBD.


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