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7.9.04

Log It To Save It

Judge Halts Plan To Log Burn Area Near Tahoe

Plans to log a remote and fire-damaged stretch of forest west of Lake Tahoe were blocked by a federal judge who ruled the U.S. Forest Service failed to show the project would not actually increase risk of another major wildfire.

... In his ruling England noted the Forest Service estimated as much as 85 tons per acre of wooden debris would be left on the ground in most of the logged area after profitable timber was removed and that the government failed to show that would not make fire danger worse.

... [District Ranger Rich] Johnson acknowledged limbs and other debris left on the ground would temporarily increase fire danger but said the danger would be outweighed by long-term benefits.

"There would be a short-term increase but in the long run we would be able to better provide for regeneration of the forest," Johnson said. "Our feeling was we needed to treat the full spectrum of fuels and we were willing to make some trade-off."


The kind of big dead snags that the logging operation would remove serve important ecological functions. I know forests in Sweden have suffered greatly because of efforts to "protect" them by removing dead wood, and it seems likely that a similar situation pertains here. So I'm skeptical that logging would aid in the forest's regeneration.

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