Center for Biological Diversity

Protecting endangered species and wild places of western North America
and the Pacific through science, policy, education, and environmental law.

December 20, 2000
CONTACT: Brian Segee, Center for Biological Diversity, (520) 623-5252 x308
More Information: Corner Mountain Appeal Victory


The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) today appealed to the Forest Service's Southwest Regional Office to withdraw the proposed Corner Mountain fire salvage timber sale on the Gila National Forest in the Mogollon Mountains northeast of Glenwood. The salvage sale, approved by Gila Forest Supervisor Marcia Andre on November 6, calls for clearcutting 2 million board feet of ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir on 340 acres. A large portion of this volume will be comprised of large trees—7,000 trees over 16 inches will be cut with 2,500 of these being larger than 24 inches. The Corner Mountain area contains huge old growth trees, borders an inventoried roadless area, and harbors at least half a dozen Mexican spotted owl nest sites. The Forest Service has 45 days to respond to the appeal. If the appeal is denied, CBD will sue in federal court.

The trees to be logged burned in the fall of 1998 when the Forest Service lost control of a 200 acre prescribed natural fire. When implemented properly, prescribed burns are an important method to slowly reintroduce fire into its historic role and to reduce the threat of catastrophic fire to forest communities. The Gila conducts the Forest Service's most aggressive prescribed burn policies and eventually hopes to burn one million areas a year. By offering the Corner Mountain salvage sale the Forest Service is unnecessarily undermining its own success. "The Gila National Forest is to be commended for its efforts to reintroduce fire to the forest," stated Brian Segee, staff member with CBD. "Unfortunately, the Corner Mountain sale needlessly undermines these efforts. If the Forest Service is serious about its prescribed burn program, it needs to keep salvage logging out of the equation," continued Segee.

Fire "salvage" timber sales, especially clearcuts such as Corner Mountain, are a highly damaging form of logging. Often compared to "mugging a burn victim," salvage logging has been shown in scientific studies to compact fragile soils, leading to increased levels of erosion and sedimentation in streams and rivers. Because of these concerns, some scientists have called for a prohibition on mechanized logging and road building within fire areas. "The Forest Service has steadfastly ignored ample scientific literature demonstrating the harmful effects of salvage logging to forest soils and wildlife. Corner Mountain should clearly be left to recover on its own," stated Todd Schulke, restoration coordinator with CBD.

Today's appeal is the second filed by CBD against the project. The first was upheld in June because the Forest Service failed to consider logging's impact on wildlife species, including elk, mule deer, Mexican vole, Merriam's turkey, and hairy woodpeckers. According to the Forest Service's own predictions, many of the trees to be logged may no longer be merchantable due to insects and decay. Nonetheless, the agency continues to promote the sale. "The Forest Service has no reason for issuing this decision other than pure bureaucratic stubbornness. We have actively opposed the Corner Mountain project since inception, and will take our case to federal court if necessary," concluded Segee.


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