Center for Biological Diversity

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

NEWS RELEASE: July 26, 2001
CONTACT: Brian Segee, Center for Biological Diversity, (520) 623-5252 x308


The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) has again appealed to the Forest Service's Southwest Regional Office to withdraw the proposed Corner Mountain fire salvage timber sale on the Gila National Forest northeast of Glenwood. The sale, approved by Gila Forest Supervisor Marcia Andre in June, calls for clearcutting 2 ½ 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 Forest Service has 45 days to respond to the appeal. If the appeal is denied, CBD may 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 one of the Forest Service's most aggressive prescribed burn programs 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. "We strongly oppose salvage logging of prescribed burn areas," stated Brian Segee, forest watch coordinator with CBD. "Forest fires, even when severe, are a necessary and regenerative natural process. Burned areas will eventually recover, but only if they are not salvage logged," continued Segee.

Fire "salvage" timber sales, especially clearcuts such as Corner Mountain, are a highly damaging form of logging. 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, a team of respected government and academic scientists have called for a prohibition on mechanized logging and road building within fire areas. Even the Forest Service's own researchers with the Pacific Northwest Research Station have recently acknowledged that post-fire salvage logging disturbs soils, increases sediment production, damages surrounding vegetation and negatively impacts cavity-nesting songbirds. However, the Gila National Forest has steadfastly ignored this research during its planning of Corner Mountain. "The Forest Service can continue to try and stick its head in the sand, but even its own researchers now acknowledge the negative effects of salvage logging on forest soils and wildlife," said Segee.

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, a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. The first CBD of the appeal was upheld because the Gila National Forest failed to consider impacts to wildlife species, including songbirds. The second appeal was upheld when Forest Service officials lost the entire administrative file for the sale.


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