U.S. Agency Lifts Stay on Forest Logging
The U.S. Forest Service has lifted a stay on its bitterly disputed plan to log 56 million board-feet of dead timber in a pristine area of the Eldorado National Forest just west of the Lake Tahoe Basin.
The June stay won by environmental groups prompted an Aug. 16 lawsuit from El Dorado County, which claimed it would lose its 25% share of timber sale receipts if the timber was not allowed to be logged by private companies. The county also alleged that failure to cut the wood would increase wildfire danger.
Environmentalists objected to the logging plans because of harmful impacts on wildlife, streams and old-growth timber. The logging will be allowed to go forward in the roadless Pyramid and Poison Hole areas west of Desolation Wilderness. Trees will be taken out by helicopter since no logging roads can be built in the area.
Steve Beckwitt of the Forest Issues Task Force said wide swaths of remote and pristine forested areas would be damaged by logging equipment and logging activity. Beckwitt called the lifting of the stay “an environmental tragedy. If they did that, they’re acting in total ignorance of the biological facts.”
Throughout the 597,000-acre Eldorado National Forest, nearly 10% of the trees have been killed by drought and insect attacks. Forest Service spokesman Dave Thomas said that amounts to about 1 billion board-feet.
Advertising of the three sales will start in the next two weeks but the starting date for the logging is up to the contractor.