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Forest Service Defends Strategy to Protect Sierra From Fires

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Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth says proposed changes in a protection plan for 11.5 million acres of Sierra Nevada forests are “on the right track” and that environmental critics are exaggerating the potential increase in logging.

Bosworth says rangers across the 11 national forests of the Sierra were nearly unanimous in their complaints that they cannot implement the existing plan adopted under the Clinton administration — especially if fire risks are to be reduced.

Critics claim the proposed changes in the “Sierra Nevada framework” could double the amount of logging.

Jay Watson of the Wilderness Society asserts the changes would give rangers maximum flexibility with minimum accountability to the public. But industry leaders counter flexibility is needed to reduce the risk of catastrophic fires.

A draft environmental impact statement on the proposal should be completed by fall.