The article “A modern lesson from huge post-fire logging project” (Forum, April 3), was critical of the decision by the U.S. Forest Service to undertake salvage logging as part of the Westside Recovery Project and the science used to support project evaluation.
The Westside Recovery Project proposes restoration of targeted areas severely burned by lightning fires that covered 183,000 acres on the Klamath National Forest in 2014. The approved project includes 5,570 acres of salvage logging, 12,700 acres of tree planting, 320 miles of roadside hazard treatment, and 24,450 acres of hazardous fuels reduction.
After reviewing the record of decision for the Westside Fire Recovery Project it is the opinion of the Society of American Foresters that the article does not provide a fair or balanced picture of environmental review conducted by the Forest Service. The analysis of potential impacts conducted by the Forest Service did include extensive analysis of potential impacts to water, wildlife, soils and public safety.
There were also extensive consultations with state and federal wildlife agencies regarding impacts to species such as the northern spotted owl and salmon, as well as consultation with state and federal agencies regarding water quality and public safety. The results of these analyses are well documented and can be viewed at http://1.usa.gov/1t57p2q.
Contrary to the assertions in the article, this project is neither poorly planned nor extensive in its treatment footprint. The 5,570 acres to be salvage logging are approximately 3 percent of the total burn area. Based on a review of the burn severity maps it appears to appropriately target restoration of the most severely burned areas.
The record of decision clearly supports the conclusion that action is needed to accelerate forest recovery, including reforestation with a mixture of tree species. Likewise, the roadside hazard removal and fuel treatments to promote community safety appear carefully planned and necessary.
We certainly encourage the use of good science and sound planning in support of forest restoration.
Bill Snyder is chairman of the Northern California Society of American Foresters. Contact him at NCSAF@MCN.org.