Sierra Club - Grand Canyon Chapter
Center for Biological Diversity
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 14, 2006
Contacts: Roxane George, Sierra Club (928) 774-6514
Todd Schulke, Center for Biological Diversity (505) 574-5962
Sandy Bahr, Sierra Club – Grand Canyon Chapter (602) 253-8633
Bush Administration Forced to Abandon Plans to Log Near Grand Canyon
Conservationists call on Administration to protect communities at risk from wildfires instead of logging old growth forests
Phoenix, Ariz. – Today, the Forest Service announced withdrawal of a controversial old-growth timber sale in the Grand Canyon Game Preserve, just three miles from the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. The Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity had challenged the East Rim timber sale, a 17,216-acre project, in remote areas of the Kaibab National Forest.
“The decision to abandon this controversial timber sale is a wake-up call that the Forest Service must fund projects that actually protect communities from wildfire, instead of logging in remote areas,” said Roxane George with the Sierra Club. “We advocate legitimate fuels reduction like thinning small trees near communities at risk from wildfires, but the East Rim Timber Sale targeted old- growth trees near the rim of the Grand Canyon.”
Under the guise of increasing forest health and decreasing fire risk, the Forest Service proposal would have permitted the logging of at least eight million board feet of timber (enough to fill 1,800 logging trucks) 48 miles from the nearest community, including tens of thousands of large, fire-resistant trees. The plan included extensive logging within popular camping and recreation sites overlooking Grand Canyon National Park, as well as areas directly adjacent to the Saddle Mountain Wilderness Area. Conservationists called this a tragic waste of resources, since at the same time that the East Rim timber sale was being planned, populated communities like Mount Lemmon near Tucson had to forgo desperately needed fuels reduction projects due to lack of funding.
“We are pleased that the Forest Service has withdrawn the East Rim Timber Sale, and we strongly encourage the Forest Service to consider a future project that truly protects old growth, wildlife, and our national heritage” said Todd Schulke with the Center for Biological Diversity. “This logging proposal would have harmed rare wildlife and logged within designated old-growth forests as well as the Grand Canyon Game Preserve, a protected area set aside by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 for the benefit of wildlife.”
The North Rim, particularly the Kaibab Plateau area where the sale is located, has always been a paradise for a wide variety of wildlife. President and sportsman Theodore Roosevelt was so impressed by the area that in 1906 he designated it the Grand Canyon Game Preserve, and demanded that it be “set apart forever for the use and benefit of our people as a whole and not sacrificed to the shortsighted greed of a few.” The East Rim timber sale was located entirely within the boundaries of the preserve.
The groups’ challenge contended that the Forest Service violated the law in planning the East Rim Sale by failing to protect habitat for several species of wildlife listed under the Endangered Species Act, including the Mexican spotted owl, as well as sensitive species like the northern goshawk. The densest breeding population of northern goshawks in North America exists on the Kaibab Plateau. The Plateau has also been designated a National Natural Landmark for the protection of the Kaibab squirrel, a unique species found nowhere else on Earth which has been compared to Darwin’s finches on the Galapagos Islands as a classic example of evolution through geographic isolation.
To date, 95 percent of the old growth in the Southwest has been logged. Approximately 90 percent of the remaining trees in the Southwest’s forests are 12 inches in diameter and smaller. The old growth left on the Kaibab National Forest is especially important because it represents the best opportunity to restore old growth on a landscape scale. While the forest plan calls for managing 20 percent of the Kaibab National Forest to maintain an old growth condition, this small number does not represent what existed historically and is not sufficient to restore the ecosystem.
The Center for Biological Diversity is an environmental organization based in Tucson, Arizona dedicated to the preservation, protection and restoration of biodiversity, native species, ecosystems and public lands.
The Sierra Club is the nation’s oldest and largest grassroots conservation organization with nearly 13,000 members in Arizona.