By Ley Garnett
2004-04-01 (Oregon Considered) - Siskiyou National
Forest officials are now saying their plan to log
the site of the 2002 Biscuit Fire won't be ready
until next month. The delay means that it's now
unlikely the controversial project could go
forward this year.
The plan will be released in the form of an
environmental impact statement. Biscuit Fire
Recovery Project spokeswoman Judy Mc Hugh says the
agency has received thousands of critical public
comments and it needs another month to finish the
Mc Hugh says the report will reduce the volume of
the timber harvest by at least 25% and perhaps as
much as 35%.
Judy Mc Hugh: The first reason is that we have
found, as we've been out there, a great number of
small streams too small to show up on the
topographic map. We know anytime we go out in the
field we anticipate finding some streams like
that. In the fire area, however, we found more
than we traditionally find in other places
throughout the forest.
In its first draft report, the Forest Service
proposed the largest federal timber project in
modern history---more logging than was done on
federal land last year in Oregon, Washington, and
northern California combined.
But McHugh says surveyors have discovered that
more trees survived the half million-acre fire
than first thought.
Judy Mc Hugh: When we got out on the ground there
were some more green trees and so we dropped those
areas and they are no longer going to be
harvested. And finally, what we see across the
landscape is the continued effect of decay and
deterioration, especially in the smaller diameter
Once the final report is issued next month, Mc
Hugh says opponents are probably going to launch a
legal challenge to the logging plan.
Judy Mc Hugh: There's generally an appeal period
after an environmental impact statement, always an
appeal period, and that appeal period when you add
up all the various components of it, sums to a
total of 105 days.
Dave Hill: In reality, if that's the schedule,
we're looking at, in the summer of 2004, it is
highly unlikely that there will be any salvage
opportunities of fire killed timber.
Dave Hill heads the Southern Oregon Timber
Industry Association, representing about 50
Dave Hill: :I'm very disappointed. It's a
tremendous waste of a natural resource, a
renewable natural resource at that.
Hill says challenges to the Biscuit logging plan
would likely push any timber harvest into next
year. Meanwhile he says the trees that burned in
the giant fire in 2002 will continue to rot and
lose commercial value.
Dave Hill: The likelihood of bidders wanting to
take a risk on two or three year old fire killed
timber is, I'd say, marginal at best. Not many
people are going to bid on fire killed timber that
has been sitting and decaying and staining and
having insect problems going on three years.
But Don Smith who heads the environmental group
the Siskiyou Project, says he expects the Forest
Service will attempt to declare an emergency
exemption for the project, so that the logging
could begin this summer.
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