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Forest Service: More Logging Best Way to Cut Down on Fires

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The Forest Service is taking a significant step toward increasing logging across the Sierra Nevada. The agency says in a new environmental review out today that doubling logging throughout the 11 national forests of the Sierra is the best way to ease fire threats, protect wildlife, create jobs and ultimately have more old-growth forests a century from now.

The accelerated logging is aimed at thinning overstocked forests across more than 11 million acres from south of Yosemite National Park to north of Lake Tahoe. Without it, the Forest Service says fish and wildlife habitat will face far greater risk from wildfires.

The study analyzes the Forest Service´s proposal to ease logging restrictions imposed by the protection plan the agency adopted in 2001 under President Clinton. Industry officials have been pressing the Bush administration for the added flexibility the changes would allow in logging larger trees previously off limits under the Clinton plan.

Environmentalists scoff at the idea of logging the forests to save them. Jay Watson of The Wilderness Society in California says it appears the Forest Service´s solution to restoring forest health is “to commit logging on top of logging on top of logging.”