Citing forest fire prevention priorities, the U.S. Forest Service has proposed logging in California’s Sequoia National Monument, home to some of the world’s tallest and oldest trees, as well as the Pacific fisher, the California spotted owl, and many other threatened species dependent on ancient forest habitat.
Established by President Clinton in 2000, the Monument designation was the culmination of years of work by environmentalists. But in its draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for management of the Monument, the Forest Service chose the most environmentally destructive of six alternative management plans, the one calling for the most intensive logging.
Under the Forest Service’s “preferred alternative,” 80,000 acres would be opened for logging, including trees up to 30 inches in diameter, a size not permitted in most National Forests throughout the Sierra Nevada. The Forest Service’s proposal calls for 180 clearcuts, producing 10 million board feet a year.
The Forest Service plan is based on the idea that if the ancient Sequoias aren’t logged, they will be vulnerable to catastrophic fires. But the real motivation may lie in a sentence buried deep in the EIS, which says logging in the Monument “might make the difference between continued operation and closure of the one mill available to serve the Monument.”