Newly appointed Forest Service Chief Michael Dombeck told Congress he would not cut old-growth trees, but the Boise National Forest is preparing to log 13,473 acres of them, the Idaho Conservation League charges.
“Either the Boise National Forest is making a fool of the Forest Service chief, or the chief and the Boise Forest are both playing the public for fools,” said John McCarthy, league conservation director.
On Feb. 25, Dombeck told lawmakers: “The unfortunate reality is that many people presently do not trust us to do the right thing. Until we rebuild that trust and strengthen those relationships, it is simply common sense that we avoid … old-growth and roadless areas.”
Yet the Boise Forest this week announced plans to cut a total 18,160 acres in the Deadwood River roadless area near Lowman. More than 13,000 are old-growth, McCarthy said.
“The chief made a speech and talked about philosophical things, but the direction to the Forest Service has never changed, which is follow your forest plans,” Boise Forest spokesman Frank Carroll said.
Idaho has never resolved the fate of millions of acres of roadless forest contemplated as wilderness.
“Our forest plan doesn’t recognize Deadwood as wilderness, so we treat it as multiple use,” Carroll said. “Until it’s resolved, there will always be a war.”
McCarthy said agency figures show the proposed logging project will earn a grand total of $20,800 net income. An additional $905,200 will go to county governments for their loss of property taxes on federal land. When subtracted from the gross income, it results in an $884,400 loss to taxpayers.
The sale is virtually unchanged from last year, when it was designated a salvage rider sale. Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman halted those sales nationwide last summer.
The project will include logging of large-diameter, old-growth ponderosa pine and Douglas fir, while the agency claims it entails thinning of small trees, McCarthy said.
More than 11 miles of new roads will bisect the area, known for its quality elk habitat. The project will develop 23,000 acres of the 55,000-acre roadless area used by all kinds of recreation seekers, McCarthy said.
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