For Immediate Release, February 14, 2011
Lawsuit Filed to Save Lake Tahoe Wildlife Habitat From Logging
SACRAMENTO, Calif.— The John Muir Project of the Earth Island Institute and the Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit in federal court in Sacramento late Friday challenging a federal logging project that would unnecessarily log important wildlife habitat on public lands near the shores of Lake Tahoe. About 70 percent of the remaining high-quality habitat of the black-backed woodpecker in the Lake Tahoe Basin would be destroyed by the project.
The U.S. Forest Service’s Angora logging project, located just across the south shore of Lake Tahoe, proposes to log 1,398 acres of publicly owned forest burned during a 2007 fire. While the loss of homes during the Angora fire was a tragedy, the forests that burned in the fire are currently providing essential habitat for many fire-dependent species, including the rare and imperiled black-backed woodpecker, a species under consideration for protection under the California Endangered Species Act. The woodpecker requires moderately to intensely burned forests with numerous large, dead trees for its habitat. The species’ current habitat in California is severely limited due to years of fire suppression and post-fire logging.
“Though it may seem counterintuitive, the current science is clear: The most intense fires create some of the very best and richest wildlife habitat in our forests, but there are no protections in place for this important habitat,” said Dr. Chad Hanson, staff ecologist and director of the Earth Island Institute’s John Muir Project.
In September 2010, the John Muir Project and the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the California Fish and Game Commission to protect the black-backed woodpecker under the state’s Endangered Species Act. A decision on the petition is expected later this year.
“If the black-backed woodpecker is to survive in California, we simply cannot keep logging its habitat as the Forest Service is planning to do here,” said Justin Augustine of the Center.
Most of the trees logged will be sent to so-called biomass facilities to be burned for energy production. Such facilities are widely touted as a renewable form of energy, but the emissions associated with the logging, transporting and large-scale industrial processing of trees and other wood products for energy can in fact increase global warming pollution and worsen climate change. And in the short term, burning trees for fuel emits more carbon pollution than burning fossil fuels, including coal, oil or natural gas.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 320,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
The John Muir Project, a project of the Earth Island Institute, works to ensure ecological management of our national forests and protect native wildlife species threatened by logging.