Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, August 7, 2018

Contact:  Joe Trudeau, Center for Biological Diversity, (603) 562-6226,
Thomas Slaback, Sierra Club, (928) 778-4233,
Jenny Cobb, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, (928) 925-1320,

Huge Prescott National Forest Logging Project Targets Half of Spotted Owl Habitat, Remaining Old-growth Trees

PRESCOTT, Ariz.― Conservation groups filed a formal protest Monday to stop large-scale logging of old-growth trees in Prescott National Forest in critical habitat for the threatened Mexican spotted owl and northern goshawk.

The U.S. Forest Service has authorized the 234,276-acre Hassayampa Landscape Restoration Project, which would allow private companies to log across more than half of the owls’ primary habitat and nearly all of the goshawks’ preferred habitat, with no limits on cutting what remains of the Prescott’s iconic old-growth and large trees.

“Targeting dense stands of large, old trees that spotted owls desperately need is incredibly destructive,” said Joe Trudeau, southwest advocate for the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s mind-boggling that the Forest Service is failing to provide any protections for this crucial habitat. Once these magnificent trees and wildlife are gone from Prescott National Forest, they’re gone for good.”

Numerous Forest Service documents have identified a lack of large, old trees in Prescott National Forest, with data showing that only a handful of trees larger than 18 inches in diameter remain. That compares to an overabundance of small trees, which fuel uncharacteristic wildfires.

“Natural fire regimes must be restored to the Prescott National Forest’s diverse ecosystems,” said Thomas Slaback, conservation chair for the Sierra Club’s Yavapai Group. “Forest restoration can’t come at the expense of sensitive wildlife, old-growth forest, streams, trails and the enjoyment of our public lands. Removing large, old, fire-resistant trees and leaving logging slash on steep mountain slopes will increase fire risk.”

The Hassayampa restoration project will set the course for forest management for the next 30 years across much of what remains of the old-growth forests in the Bradshaw Mountains. In their protest, the groups explain that restoring fire-dependent forests depends on thinning small-diameter trees, not cutting down the last remaining large, fire-resistant trees. The groups also say the agency used insufficient data in its environmental analysis.

“The way to support communities and wildlife from wildfires is through sensible forest management practices that focus thinning on small diameter trees, and by creating defensible space around buildings,” said Jenny Cobb, Yavapai leader of Great Old Broads for Wilderness. “For this vast landscape project to restore the forest, it needs to conserve our last remaining old-growth trees, which store atmospheric carbon, provide vitally important habitat, and regenerate resilient future forests through the conservation of genetic diversity.”

The area’s forests were heavily logged in the late 1800s to supply mines and the Forest Service continued logging old-growth well into the 1980s. Now trees over 150 years old or 18 inches in diameter account for less than 3 percent of trees in the Prescott National Forest, according to Forest Service data.

Prescott National Forest Resources

Source: 'Forest Resources of the Prescott National Forest', USDA Forest Service 2003

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

The Sierra Club is a grassroots environmental organization with more than 3 million members and supporters working to safeguard the health of communities, protect wildlife, and preserve wild places through public education, lobbying, and litigation.

Great Old Broads for Wilderness is a national nonprofit grassroots organization established in 1989. They are advocates, stewards, and educators for the preservation and protection of wilderness and wild lands.

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