Subject: FW: SW Biodiversity Alert #14

Subject: SW Biodiversity Alert #14

*** *** Southwest Biodiversity Alert #14 *** ***

   southwest center for biological diversity

***  ***             ****               ***  ***

                Salavge Rider in the Southwest

Salvage Timber Sale Decision goes to 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

        The Southwest Center appealed a Tucson, Federal Judge's decision to
allow logging in the Chiricahua Mountains, in SE Arizona. The first
logging to take place since the 1960s. The logging site surrounds a
Threatened Mexican spotted owl territory - the site was
convieniently deleted by the Forest Service to allow for the sale.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service is opposed to the sale, and has not
been allowed to consult on the sale or the deletion of the

Investigation by USDA Inspector General Requested

        The Southwest Center for Biological Diversity has requested a
formal investigation, by the Office of the Inspector General, USDA,
into the actions of the US Forest Service and US Fish and Wildlife
Service regarding 1) illegal alterations of the Mexican spotted owl
Recovery Plan, 2) interfering with fire fighting efforts to protect
old growth forests, in order to create salvage logging opportunities,
and 3) failing to conduct and adequate investigation of the HB fire
on the Gila National Forest.

        The US Forest Service and Fish and Wildlife Service secretly
altered the Final Mexican spotted owl Recovery Plan after it was
signed by the FWS Regional Director. Internal agency memos reveal
that these alterations were specifically made to permit the
Southwest's largest salvage timber sale, the HB Salvage Timber Sale
on the Gila National Forest.

        The Gila National Forest allowed the HB Fire to burn unimpeded
through commercially valuable old growth forests, interfering with
fire fighter efforts to control the blaze. The Forest Service's own
records show that they allowed the most commercially valuable areas
to burn, even though they contained many Mexican spotted owl
territories. The Forest Service prepared plans to log the old growth
forest while the fire was still burning. In fact, the Forest Service
prevented fire fighting air drops during the same time they were
doing flyover to scout for timber.

        The Gila National Forest's fire investigation is contradictory and
highly suspect. It appears to be designed to cover-up the fact that
the fire was human caused, possibly by an arsonist. On July 27, 1995
President Clinton signed the Rescission Act, that same day the HB
fire was started. Investigations by newspaper reporters showed that
the Forest Service revealed to the FWS that the fire was started by
an arsonist. Coincidentally the Forest Service investigator was
"hampered" by the fact that the fire fighting efforts covered up the
point of origin of the fire. The origin of the fire was the same
place the fire fighters were ordered to stage their fire fighting
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