Environmentalists urge restraint on salvage logging | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Environmentalists urge restraint on salvage logging

Patrick McCartney

Using fire as a tool to reduce the buildup of fuel in Tahoe Basin forests is cheaper and more in tune with the environment, four environmental activists said Monday outside a Cabinet-level conference on forest health.

While saying they approve of thinning the forest next to residential neighborhoods to reduce the risk of fire, the activists said they oppose the Forest Service relying on timber sales to improve the health of the rest of the forest.

“The Forest Service approach is destroying the forest in the name of protecting it,” said Barbara Boyle, regional director of the Sierra Club. “It makes absolutely no sense to cut down large, fire-resistant trees in the name of ‘ecosystem health.'”

She called the federal agency’s promises to pay for other forest improvements through timber sale revenues “a trail of broken promises.”

Other activists participating in the press conference in Incline Village Monday were Rochelle Nason, executive director of the League to Save Lake Tahoe, Jay Watson of the Wilderness Society, and Scott Hoffman of the Sierra Nevada Forest Protection Campaign.

Watson said his group believes the Forest Service must strike a balance between addressing the health of the entire forest ecosystem, and holding timber sales to help pay for the projects.

He added that the Wilderness Society is promoting natural fuel treatment, a mix of 80 percent prescription fires and 20 percent debris removal, to restore the basin’s forests. The society has lobbied federal legislators to increase the Forest Service’s budget for fuel reduction.

Linda Blum, a forest consultant to the league, said during the forest workshop that the Forest Service has relied too much on timber sales to pay for forest-health projects.

“When your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail,” Blum said of the Forest Service approach.

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