Contacts: Sharon Galbreath
(928) 774-6514, cell: (928) 380-2878
Old Growth Logging on North Rim of Grand Canyon Proposed
(Phoenix) Conservation groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club - Grand Canyon Chapter, and the Southwest Forest Alliance, announced today that they are challenging the proposed East Rim timber sale on the Kaibab National Forest, less than three miles from the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. The East Rim timber sale’s entire eastern boundary lies on a steep canyon side contiguous with the Saddle Mountain Wilderness area, includes extensive logging within rare spruce-fir habitat, and contains popular camping and recreation sites overlooking Grand Canyon National Park.
Despite the fact that 95% of Southwestern old growth has been logged in the last century, the Forest Service proposes to log thousands of old growth trees in the East Rim timber sale on the North Kaibab, which harbors the most extensive tracts of old growth ponderosa pine remaining in the Southwest. The densest population of northern goshawks in North America nests within this extraordinary area, which was designated as the Grand Canyon National Game Preserve by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 and is the only such preserve in the Nation.
“The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is a globally important area which contains some of the Southwest’s last remaining old growth forests,” said Brian Segee, Southwest Public Lands Director with the Center for Biological Diversity. “It is especially disturbing that the Forest Service continues to spend tax dollars to log many of the oldest and biggest trees on the Kaibab Plateau, while our fire prone communities lack the added protection that thinning in their areas will provide.”
“The Forest Service claims that the East Rim timber sale is necessary to promote forest health and reduce fire risk,” said Sharon Galbreath, Executive Director of the Southwest Forest Alliance. “Yet they are logging the fire resistant old growth trees that are essential to a healthy forest ecosystem. President Bush’s so-called Healthy Forests Initiative will promote more of this kind of destructive logging, while failing to help communities at risk.”
Forest Service fire experts and fire ecologists say the greatest fire risk is in the density of trees 12 inches in diameter and smaller that make up roughly 90% of the trees in Southwestern forests (more than 70% are 6 inches or smaller), and that thinning and burning underbrush and small-diameter trees, rather than logging large trees, is the key to preventing catastrophic fires and protecting communities. Illogically, the Bush Administration’s plan calls for more logging of large trees rather than focusing on the small trees near communities.
"The Bush plan cuts the public out of important forest decisions and in doing so gives timber companies even more control over logging old growth and large trees in our National Forests," said Segee. "Now more than ever, we need the public to be involved in decisions about how their public lands are managed, so they can help protect areas like East Rim."
“The North Rim, particularly the Kaibab Plateau area where the East Rim timber sale is located, has long been recognized as important to wildlife,” said Sandy Bahr, Conservation Outreach Director for the Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club. “Theodore Roosevelt intended that it be protected forever for the use and benefit of our people as a whole and not sacrificed to the shortsighted greed of a few, as is evidenced by this timber sale proposal.”
The East Rim timber sale appeal is about protecting old growth not limiting hazardous fuels and is one of the few timber sale appeals currently in Arizona. Challenging the East Rim Timber sale is part of the Southwest Forest Alliance campaign called “Old Growth Forever!”. With this campaign, Arizona conservationists are seeking to stop the logging of rare old growth trees by having the North Kaibab National Forest designated as an Old Growth Preserve.
”We would like to finish the work started by President Theodore Roosevelt at the turn of the last century to protect the Kaibab Plateau’s unique ecosystem,” said Galbreath. “Saving the last remaining old growth surrounding the Grand Canyon should transcend political boundaries.”
The Southwest Forest Alliance is a Flagstaff-based forest advocacy group with 51 member organizations that since 1994 has focused on developing a scientifically based vision for restoring degraded forest ecosystems and to seek public support for this vision. These efforts have focused on the protection of old growth forests and damaged watersheds. The Center for Biological Diversity focuses on protecting endangered species and wild places through science, policy, education, and environmental law. The Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter is part of the nation’s oldest grassroots environmental organization with more than 12,000 members in Arizona dedicated to exploring, enjoying, and protecting the wild places of the earth.