FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 24, 2003
GROUPS APPEAL SALVAGE TIMBER SALE ON NORTH RIM OF GRAND CANYON
The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Southwest Forest Alliance have filed an administrative appeal to the Forest Service's Southwest Regional Office requesting the withdraw of the proposed Hidden post-fire salvage timber sale, located on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon within the Kaibab National Forest. The sale, approved by North Kaibab District Ranger Jill Leonard in December, calls for logging 1.3 million board feet of trees from 336 acres. The sale would log 80% of the ponderosa pine habitat burned by the Hidden Fire, started by an abandoned campfire in the summer of 2001. The Forest Service has 45 days to respond to the appeal. If the appeal is denied, the groups may sue in federal district court.
The North Rim of the Grand Canyon, particularly the Kaibab Plateau area where the sale is located, harbors some of the most extensive tracts of old growth ponderosa pine remaining in the Southwest, and has long been recognized as a paradise for wildlife, including the Northern goshawk, Kaibab squirrel and the famous Kaibab mule deer herd. President and sportsman Teddy Roosevelt was so impressed by the area that in 1906 that he designated it the Grand Canyon Game Preserve. Within the Preserve, the Forest Service is required to make the protection of wildlife its highest management priority, yet the agency continues to ignore this mandate by planning timber sales which log old-growth and large trees.
People who visit the North Rim of the Grand Canyon come to see one of the natural wonders of the world, not a sea of stumps, stated Brian Segee, Southwest Public Lands Director with CBD. The Forest Service should be spending its limited time and resources protecting the many wildland-urban interface communities in Arizona which are at risk from fire, rather than logging large trees in remote areas.
Fire salvage timber sales such as the proposed Hidden sale are an especially 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, some scientists have called for a prohibition on mechanized logging and road building within fire areas. Additionally, the Forest Services own scientific literature has found that logging of large trees, through the creation of slash, can intensify and spread bark beetle outbreakswhich are already at epidemic levels throughout Arizona.
Challenging the Hidden post-fire salvage timber sale is part of a new Southwest Forest Alliance campaign called Old Growth Forever! With this campaign, environmental groups in Arizona are seeking to stop the logging of rare old growth trees by having the North Kaibab designated as an Old Growth Preserve.