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: May 31, 2001
CONTACT: Brian Segee, (520) 623-5252 x308


The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) today appealed to the Forest Service's Southwest Regional Office to withdraw the proposed Scott Able postfire salvage timber sale within the Sacramento Mountains on the Lincoln National Forest in southern New Mexico. The sale, approved by Lincoln Forest Supervisor Jose Martinez in April, calls for logging 10 million board feet of ponderosa pine and mixed-conifer on 2,000 acres. The trees to be logged burned last summer in the 16,000 acre Scott Able fire, which ignited when a decayed aspen tree fell into a power line. The fire destroyed 64 homes and several other buildings. The Forest Service has 45 days to respond to the appeal. If the appeal is denied, the groups may sue in federal court.

Only five trees per acre will remain after the logging, making the area a virtual clearcut. The sale would also log within five Mexican spotted owl territories in violation of both the Mexican spotted owl recovery plan and the Lincoln National Forest Plan, and would negatively impact the Sacramento Mountain Salamander, an endemic species restricted to three southern New Mexico populations, two of which are in the Sacramento Mountains. The Forest Service's own research has found the salamander, which is listed as endangered by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, to be negatively impacted by logging. "The so-called Scott Able forest health project is in reality a destructive timber sale," stated Brian Segee, forest watch coordinator with CBD. "The best way to work towards recovering this area is to leave it alone, and let nature do the healing," continued Segee.

Postfire "salvage" timber sales, especially virtual clearcuts such as Scott Able, are a highly damaging form of logging. Salvage logging has been shown in scientific studies to introduce exotic species and weeds, negatively impact cavity-nesting songbirds such as woodpeckers, and 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. "Postfire salvage logging is one of the worst things that can happen to a forest. Unfortunately, the Forest Service sees burned trees as just another commodity to be sold," asserted Segee.

Over 100 years of logging, fire suppression, and domestic livestock grazing have transformed much of the Southwest's majestic ponderosa pine forests into overly dense thickets prone to unnaturally intense and damaging crown fires. CBD and other groups are developing and actively testing restoration strategies on the Kaibab, Coconino, and Gila National Forests designed to protect communities, improve forest health and reduce crown fire danger through prescribed burning and conservative thinning which retains all large trees and emphasizes the protection of wildlife and biodiversity.


Go back