This week, Stanislaus National Forest Supervisor Susan Skalski released the timber salvage plan to address some of the effects of last year’s devastating Rim Fire. The plan will allow for harvesting of burned trees on 24 square miles within the fire-damaged area, in addition to 28 square miles around roads and other areas where falling trees could pose a risk to the public. The plan allows for 52 square miles, out of the 400 square mile area, to be harvested.
Opponents of the plan feel it goes too far and destroys habitat critical to California’s spotted owl and the black-backed woodpecker. Others feel the plan doesn’t go far enough and are concerned that leaving too much dead timber on the landscape could become a public safety hazard from fire and falling trees in future years.
The next step will be putting the project up for bid, as a timber sale. Funds obtained from the timber sale can go back to aid in recovery efforts for this region, including replanting and other habitat and environmental restoration projects. While entities like RCRC who are in support of timber harvest in this area as part of the recovery and restoration efforts hope that the timber sale and contracting process can move forward quickly into work on the ground, questions regarding litigation still loom, and some environmental community members are already considering those avenues. Should the salvage process not be completed prior to winter, much of the value of the timber would be lost.
The Proposed Record of Decision is expected to be signed and made official on Thursday. The complete report can be accessed here.