Center for Biological Diversity
Protecting endangered species and wild
places of western North America
February 13, 2001
APPEAL SHUTS DOWN GILA NATIONAL FOREST FIRE SALVAGE SALE FOR SECOND TIME
In response to an
appeal filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, the Forest Service's
Regional Offices in Albuquerque have once again withdrawn the Corner Mountain
fire "salvage" timber sale on the Gila National Forest. The
sale, approved by Gila Forest Supervisor Marcia Andre in November, would
have clearcut 2 ½ million board feet of ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir
on 340 acres. The appeal was upheld because the Gila failed to respond
to CBD's comments on the proposed logging. These comments included substantial
evidence that salvage logging increases erosion and sedimentation into
rivers and streams, damages soils, and adversely impacts numerous "management
indicator species," including many cavity-nesting songbirds.
Additionally, the Forest Service has never adequately addressed the sale's effects on wildlife species. This failure is especially troubling with respect to songbird species, many of which depend on the thousands of large "snags," or standing dead trees, which Corner Mountain would have logged. A recent Forest Service review of scientific literature found 100% of coniferous nesting songbirds in New Mexico to be in decline. "Burned forests are much more than a commodity," stated Segee. "Fires create important habitat for a wide array of wildlife, especially our imperiled songbirds," continued Segee.
Fire salvage timber sales, especially clearcuts such as Corner Mountain, are a highly 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. "We hope this second appeal decision is the end of the Corner Mountain proposal. The job of restoring our forests is much too important to be spending time on outdated and damaging salvage sales," stated Todd Schulke, restoration coordinator with CBD.