| FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 4, 2002
CONTACT: Brian Segee, Center for Biological Diversity (520) 623-5252 x308
SOUTHERN UTAH TIMBER SALE APPEALED BY CBD, EIGHT OTHER GROUPS
SALT LAKE CITY, UT-The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) appealed to the Forest Service's Intermountain Regional Office today to withdraw the Griffin Springs Resource Management Project, a proposed timber sale on the Dixie National Forest which would log 10 million board feet of spruce-fir and aspen trees on over 4,000 acres of high-elevation forests within the Aquarius Plateau. Underscoring the ecological importance of southern Utah forests, as well as the Forest Services clearly inadequate analysis of the environmental impacts of this sale, at least eight other local, state and regional environmental organizations have also appealed the project: Boulder Regional Group (Boulder, UT), Ecology Center (Missoula, MT), Escalante Wilderness Project (Escalante), Forest Guardians (Santa Fe, NM), Redrock Forests (Moab), Sierra Club Glen Canyon Group (Moab), Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (Salt Lake City) and Utah Environmental Congress (Salt Lake City). The Regional Forester has 45 days to make a decision on these appeals.
One of the most famous of southern Utahs high plateaus, the Aquarius Plateau rises over 6,000 feet above Utahs world-renowned canyon country, including Capitol Reef National Park and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The Plateau is covered by rich forests of spruce, fir and aspen forests and contains numerous subalpine grasslands, wet meadows and high-elevation lakes. The headwaters of several rivers, including the Escalante, Paria and Dirty Devil Rivers, begin on the Plateau. The Griffin Springs timber sale is the first component of a larger logging-based 80,000-acre project inappropriately titled the Aquarius Ecosystem Restoration Project.
Most of the Aquarius Plateau has already been heavily impacted by logging, grazing, road construction, and off-road vehicle abuse, stated Brian Segee, attorney with CBD. Instead of offering destructive timber sales dressed up as restoration projects, the Forest Service should simply give this irreplaceable area a rest, concluded Segee.
In order to facilitate the intensive logging contemplated on the Griffin Springs timber sale, the Forest Service has proposed the reconstruction of 22 miles of unclassified road, much of which the Forest Service concedes is presently impassible and often little more than a faint track. Under the Services progressive new Roads Strategy, issued in January 2001, the agency is prohibited from rebuilding unclassified roads without first conducting an extensive roads analysis and considering a multitude of environmental and economic factors. The Dixie National Forest, however, has completely failed to address this important new policy.