Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sugar Brings Bittersweet Victory for Old Growth

Hells Canyon Preservation Council has successfully protected 275 acres of beautiful old growth mixed-conifer forests from commercial logging on the backside of Mt. Emily on your publically owned National Forest lands. Originally the Forest Service proposed commercial treatments for over 400 acres of old growth forests. These treatments included cutting fire-resistant Ponderosa Pine and Douglas fir trees well over a century in age.

Large, century-old, Ponderosa Pine that was marked for cut (note blue paint) in the Sugar Timber Sale is saved!!

We succeeded in getting 149 acres of old growth on steep slopes completely dropped from treatment. A total of 126 acres were changed from commercial logging to a precommercial treatment that could include light mechanical removal of small trees and/or introduction of fire to the site. A total of 122 acres will be treated commercially as originally proposed. This is why it is a bittersweet victory.

As we stated in our comments on the Blue Mountains Forest Plan Revision (see “Old growth forests are simply one of the most important ecosystems to preserve on Earth.The reasons for protecting old growth forests continue to accumulate, indicating the life-giving and supporting nature of these complex, interconnected ecosystems. Recent findings have shown the immense value of old growth forests for protecting carbon stores (Smithwick et al. 2002, Luyssaert et al. 2008, Hudiburg et al. 2009, Keith et al. 2009) and for continued accumulation of carbon in soils (Zhou et al. 2006). Unfortunately, old growth forests have been heavily targeted for logging in the Blue Mountains for over a century.”

The vast majority of our old growth forests have already fallen to the chainsaw. The remaining old growth forests are an irreplaceable part of our natural heritage and should be carefully protected based on the best-available science. There should be no commercial logging incentives attached to the scientifically defensible restoration needs of old-growth forests.

Please join us in defense of the magnificent remaining old growth forests. Contact your elected officials, write to the Forest Service, and talk to your neighbors, friends, and acquaintances about the reasons why you value old growth forests. Tell them that management of old growth forests should only be based on the best-available science with no commercial logging incentives.

Post and photo by David Mildrexler, Ecosystem Conservation Coordinator, HCPC

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