The third of the four timber harvest projects under consideration in the 1999 Hash Rock Fire area has been advertised. It is expected that a group of environmentalists will file an appeal just as they have for the first of the salvage sales.
>Environmental groups have filed appeals against earlier salvage sales, the latest being the 53-tree Pick-Up sale and it is expected that the newest salvage harvest will also be appealed -- and a late breaking update on the Pick-Up Salvage sale follows the article
The first sale, called the Rocky Salvage Harvest was offered and appealed soon after the fire. That appeal has been settled and the harvest sale freed to go.
Recently the second, the Pick Up Salvage Timber Sale, was offered. It consists of 53 Ponderosa Pine trees cut down as part of fire suppression efforts during the Hash Rock Fire. Once before the sale of the 53 trees was offered, but before it could be fully advertised it was appealed. The sale was pulled at that time and the offering was redrafted before being finally being advertised.
The Pick Up Salvage Harvest was also appealed. The latest, called the Hash Rock Salvage Sale, was advertised on Sept. 14. It is larger and includes harvest activities on about 752 acres. Approximately 4.7 million board feet would be harvested.
District Ranger Art Currier explained that five alternative actions were analyzed in the environmental assessment. Included in the five was one advocating no action and the others proposed various areas, amounts to be harvested and number of temporary roads that would be built.
The alternative chosen, Currier noted, will have the second highest volume of timber and the second highest net sale value.
Alternative Five was preferred, Currier said in his findings, because it will recover the economic value of down trees and provide timber products to the local economy.
"I believe that recovering the economic value of dead and dying trees is important," Currier wrote, "because it contributes to the socio-economic needs of local counties. It provides job opportunities, Alternative Five is expected to create or maintain about 108 jobs."
On the technical side, the chosen alternative will "maintain snag habitat for primary cavity excavators, reducing the potential for sediment delivery and reduce the potential introduction and spread of noxious weeds."
In addition to harvesting trees, Alternative Five includes 1,267 acres of reforestation and riparian planting along 10 miles of stream channel. Water quality was identified as a key issue in the EA because of a high risk of adverse effects from increased erosion and sediment as a result of the fire.
Appellants have already filed appeals on the 53-tree Pick-Up and they are expected to react to the Hash Rock Salvage Sale and to the other two, the Rocky and Bandit timber sales, when they are offered.
In the notice of appeal filed with the Regional Forester)s office in Portland, those opposing the timber sales list their reasoning: It (salvage timber harvest sales) is economically motivated rather than ecologically motivated.
Salvage harvest will cause significant adverse impacts to a forest ecosystem that is extremely fragile because of the intense fire. Salvage harvest will unavoidably exacerbate adverse impacts to soil, water quality, and habitat, and simultaneously retard recovery of soil, water quality and vegetation.
Currier's response was terse: The effects of the proposed sale have been analyzed and documented in an environmental assessment. Based on the environmental analysis, these effects have not been determined to be significant.
Anyone wishing to file an appeal on this timber sale have until late October. Appeals must be filed within 45 days from Sept. 14, when legal notices were first published. For more information, contact Currier or the project manager, Barb Fontaine at 3160 NE Third St. Prineville, OR 97754.
Update: A new wrinkle on the Pick-Up Sale announced
Wednesday afternoon, District Ranger Art Currier announced that the appeal on the Pick-up Salvage Sale has been withdrawn.
Tuesday, Currier and Asaute Riverwind (co-director of the League of Wilderness Defenders) went into the forest to the area and saw first hand the trees included in the sale. After inspecting the 53 trees, it was mutually agreed that the sale of all but nine could continue. The nine trees will be left for wildlife habitat.
Currier said the volume of trees was not the issue, as far as he was concerned. "It was having the integrity of the firefighters questioned that bothered me," he said.
In the appeal, it was requested that the Regional Forester conduct an investigation into why the trees were logged in the first place.
One Forest Service official said she was told that in the appellant claimed that the reason the trees had been cut down was to keep Ochoco Lumber operating a little longer.
As part of the withdrawal statement, Riverwind included an apology. "Our organization's concerns have been satisfactorily answered as to 'why' these trees were felled. While most were legitimately felled, a couple may have succumbed unnecessarily to overzealous young sawyers - but were not fraudulently taken. Possibly just an honest mistake or different and questionable judgment ... made in a difficult moment."
The apology continued to included any injury to the integrity of agency personnel involved.
Unresolved issues remain, Riverwind says in his letter. Issues that are best left to be resolved in the upcoming Hash Rock and Bandit timber sales.