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The Pioneer Press grants permission for this article to be copied and forwarded.
Pioneer Press, Fort Jones, California
Wednesday, June 9, 2004Vol. 32, No. 30
Page 1, column 2

Timber sales stopped

--More lawsuits slow Forest health program at the top of the state.

By Liz Bowen, Assistant Editor

Pioneer Press, Fort Jones, California

SISKIYOU COUNTY, CALIFORNIA Ė The small Westpoint Timber Harvest sale in the Scott Bar area is the result of a seven-year project for the Scott River Ranger District of the Klamath National Forest.

The sale was designed under Bill Clintonís Northwest Forest Plan, which encouraged a percentage of timber harvests after huge tracts of land was set aside for spotted owl habitat.

But the long, drawn out process is still not good enough for three enviro non-profit organizations that brought lawsuits against the Forest Service the end of May. Klamath Forest Alliance (KFA), a local group; EPIC, (Environmental Protection Information Center), of Garberville; and Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, which is based in Ashland, Oregon; sued over the 1,026-acre Westpoint Timber Sale above the lower Scott River.

Ray Haupt, Scott River District ranger, began his Forest Service career in Siskiyou County more than 25 years ago. He understands the healthy management of trees and has become an expert. Haupt said the Westpoint is a timber sale, because the thick stands of pine and other vegetation must be thinned to create forest health. The project will also remove brush and thin trees to help protect the small, but historical Scott Bar community from catastrophic fire.

Timber harvests are only permitted on 13 percent of Klamath National Forest land.

The Westpoint in under the "matrix" designated lands of the Klamath National Forest (KNF). Timber harvest is only permitted on matrix lands. Of the total 1.5 million acres of land in the KNF, only 13 percent are under the matrix designation. So, the vast majority of acreage can not be touched by logging.

In the large scheme of things, the Westpoint Timber Sale is small potatoes touching 1026 acres.

Enviro lawsuits are stopping the few sales that have jumped through all the hoops.

But George Sexton, conservation director of the K-S Wildlands, was quoted in an Associated Press news article by Don Thompson, on May 28, as saying the Forest Service is "targeting" the bigger trees. The reporter did not talk to Haupt about the Timber Sale, who spoke freely with the Pioneer Press about creating Forest health.

Haupt said that large trees are not targeted. Thinning the smaller trees to create a healthy stand is the goal.

Two other timber sales are also in the bullís eye for lawsuits on the Scott River District. Klamath Forest Alliance, based in Forks of Salmon, is a partner with EPIC and K-S Wildlands Center in these suits as well.

The Jack Conventional, up south fork of French Creek, was struck by a lawsuit the day that bidding opened for contract work. That was a month ago. The Jack is another project that has received in-depth study by the Forest Service and enviros. The initial project was completed in 1997 by Ranger Bob Lindsay. Since then, the Environmental Assessment has been litigated five times and "we received a settlement agreement last summer," said Haupt. But the stalling lawsuit was filed this spring.

Beaver Creek Environmental Assessment has been litigated five times.

Then on April 30, the federal judge postponed the court date on the Beaver Creek Environmental Assessment. The judge requested more time to review the record, said Haupt. When asked how big the record is, Haupt responded, "There are twelve binders that are three-inches thick. It is three-feet deep."

Haupt is stumped regarding the opposition to these sales. The Beaver Creek project was collaborated through Clintonís Klamath Province Advisory Committee, which brought diverse interests together to hash out agreements and prevent lawsuits.

It hasnít worked.

"We are actively trying to implement Clintonís Northwest Forest Plan," said Haupt, who added that 95 percent of the trees targeted for thinning and logging are only 12 to 13-inches in diameter.

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