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PRESS RELEASE: Committee on Resources

Forest Service Chief Upholds Final Plan for the Sierra Nevada Forests

11/18/04
Washington
, DC
- Today the U.S. Forest Service Chief upheld the finalized management plan for the Sierra Nevada Forests in California, dismissing a number of appeals related to the plan. The plan is the product of years of hard work on the part of Regional Forester, Jack Blackwell, and many others with the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region.

"Chief Bosworth's decision to uphold this plan reinforces this Administration's belief that active management, as prescribed by the Healthy Forest Restoration Act, is the key to vibrant forests," Chairman Richard Pombo said. "I'd like to thank the Forest Service for its hard work and dedication to revising the Sierra Nevada Forest Plan. Though the plan is not as aggressive as it needs to be in reducing hazardous fuels, the agency has taken the first and hardest step, in a long road toward protecting communities, endangered species and our national forest from catastrophic fire."

The original Clinton administration plan failed to acknowledge the serious conditions present in California's Sierra Nevada that left communities, water, wildlife, and the forests themselves extremely vulnerable to catastrophic fire.

"The Sierra Nevada is facing unnaturally thick stands of forest that are ten times denser than they ever were historically," Pombo continued. "This plan targets only one-fifth of the net growth in the Sierra Nevada Forest, so further steps will need to be taken in the future to meet the goals of the Healthy Forests Restoration Act."

The Sierra Nevada Forest Plan will make important strides toward protecting California's spotted owl. Throughout the West endangered species have been continually threatened by wildfires. In Arizona the Rodeo fire torched over 100,000 acres of habitat for the endangered Mexican spotted owl, in Oregon the Biscuit fire decimated over 80,000 acres of endangered Northern spotted owl habitat, and in Colorado the Hayman fire pushed 8 endangered species even closer to disappearance due to habitat loss. Continued improvements in forest management and implementation of the Healthy Forests Restoration Act will better protect threatened species.

 

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