Six Reasons Why We Challenged the Stanislaus National Forest in Court

“These forests were all different but, in one critical sense, they were all the same. They belonged to me, to my children, and to all the American people for today, tomorrow, and forever – unless somehow, we allow this incredible birthright to be stolen or frittered away.”
– Jack Ward Thomas, Chief Emeritus of the US Forest Service, referring to our national forests.

In the spirit of the above quote, we filed suit with our partners (The John Muir Project and The Center for Biological Diversity) on September 4, 2014, asking the court to reduce the scope of the Stanislaus National Forest’s plan to log 32,000 acres of fragile, post-fire forest created by the 2013 Rim Fire.

We do this with regret because we have really been impressed with the US Forest Service’s new efforts to focus on ecological restoration, the recognition of shrubland habitats, and their plans to account for the impacts of climate change on California’s ecosystems. However, it is our opinion that management on the Stanislaus National Forest has yet to come on board with the new approach. We provided extensive input to help the Stanislaus understand why their post-fire logging plan was unsound, but they ignored us – hence, our lawsuit.

Here are our 6 reasons for filing:

1. To Protect One of the Rarest, Most Fragile Habitats on Earth
One of the most damaging practices in forestry is logging a burned forest. The science is clear on this point. Thrashing through the fragile, post-fire environment with heavy logging equipment, dragging felled logs across delicate soils, and leaving behind a wasteland of broken limbs and crushed wildflower, shrub, and tree seedlings crucial to forest recovery is an ecological disaster. Yet the Stanislaus National Forest claims such logging, “is the first step in the process of long-term forest recovery” in its logging plan. Few statements could be further from the truth.

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News Story Falsely Claims “Everything is Dead” One Year After Yosemite Fire

Year-old AP article that Misrepresented US Forest Service Scientists and the Impact of the 2013 Rim Fire is Released as “News” by CBS Affiliate

SAN DIEGO, Calif. – The CBS affiliate in Sacramento, California, recycled a sensationalized 2013 Associated Press news article this week with a new headline that falsely claimed “1 Year Later, Scientists Find Yosemite Rim Fire Left Behind a Sierra Moonscape.” The US Forest Service, scientists, and environmental groups called for the article to be withdrawn immediately.

“It’s hardly a moonscape,” said Robert Guy, Research Associate for the California Chaparral Institute. “The post-fire environment within the Rim Fire area is exploding with new life. Conifer seedlings, shrubs, wildflowers, and a wonderful variety of birds and insects can be found nearly everywhere.”

John Heil, the Press Officer for the US Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Region, asked CBS to remove the story from their website. He said the quotes from one of their researchers were, “taken out of context and misquoted/misrepresentation” of what was said to the Associated Press reporter over a year ago.

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11 Reasons Why Burned Forests are Beautiful

A severely burned forest is not a “destroyed” forest, but rather a habitat restored.

That is not something you are likely to hear during or after the next large forest fire in the Sierra Nevada. It certainly wasn’t during the 2013 Rim Fire in Yosemite and the Stanislaus National Forest. It should have been, however, because the science is clear – severely burned forests provide some of rarest and most biodiverse habitats on earth.

Severely burned forests should be left alone, protected, and allowed to thrive without our meddling. This is why we are joining with several other environmental organizations to stop “salvage” logging and “reforestation” projects in the forest burned by the Rim Fire. The Forest Service will make a decision about what they will to do in a few weeks. Stay tuned.

dsc_5084-ii1. Severely burned forests provide rich habitats.
Why? Because, as described by wildlife biologist Monica Bond, “These post-fire, complex early seral forests are rich in post-disturbance legacies (e.g., large live and dead trees, downed logs), and post-fire vegetation (e.g., native fire-following shrubs, flowers, natural conifer regeneration), that provide important habitat for countless species and differ from those created by logging (e.g., salvage or pre-fire thinning) that are deficient in biological legacies and many other key ecological attributes.”
Location: Tahoe National Forest, after the 2008 American River Complex Fire.

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