In 2004, the Bush Administration eliminated the earlier (2001), more protective forest plan for National Forests of the Sierra Nevada and replaced it with a plan, called the “2004 Framework”, to substantially increase commercial logging levels across the Sierra Nevada, under the guise of logging the forest to prevent fire.
However, an abundance of scientific research has been conducted in the past decade which establishes that fire, especially high intensity fire, is ecologically beneficial, and creates the most biodiverse habitat available when it kills most or all of the trees in mature and old forest stands, that forests naturally regenerate after fire and that commercial logging does not reduce the risk of future intense fire. This means that by eliminating or severely weakening protections for dense, old forests, implementation of the 2004 Framework is simply resulting in ecological damage, removal of habitat and harm to native species and is not “saving” the forests from the natural and beneficial effects of fire.
All of the logging which has occurred or is currently planned under the 2004 Framework has been/is intensive and damaging (removing thousands of trees up to 30″ in diameter per project), and completely unnecessary to “restore” the forests. In fact this intensive logging has been taking place in California spotted owl nesting/roosting habitat, and Pacific fisher denning/resting habitat, and both species are now at risk of extinction due to this commercial logging and lack of forest protection.
JMP, joined by the Center for Biological Diversity, submits detailed comments on proposed logging projects in dense, mature/old forests on National Forests of the Sierra Nevada, arguing that these stacks of scientific studies, published since 2004, render the 2004 Framework, and the assumptions upon which it is based, outdated and inaccurate, resulting in commercial logging projects which do not properly assess the environmental impacts of the proposed actions.
The national forests of the southern Sierra Nevada (Sequoia, Sierra, and Inyo) are the first to begin the process of revising their forest plans The John Muir Project and Center for Biological Diversity have been sending frequent comments and memos to the Forest Service at every stage of this process in order to inform the Forest Service about the new science on forest and fire ecology in the Sierra Nevada. So far, the Forest Service has largely ignored current science in order to promote very regressive and outdated proposals that use ignorance and fear of fire in order to justify increased commercial logging on our federal lands. JMP will continue to diligently watchdog this process, and will work to ensure that these new Forest Plans reflect the best available science and provide substantial protections for all native wildlife and habitat types.
The Draft Environmental Impact Statements for the first three Forest Plan Revisions
will likely be available for public comment this fall (2015).