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Old-Growth Logging Canceled

The Forest Service has canceled plans to log 600 acres of old-growth forest in the Sierra as part of a settlement with environmentalists who say the harvests would harm wildlife and increase fire risks.

Under the agreement disclosed today, the agency will be allowed to seek bids from private timber companies to thin nearly five-thousand acres of forest in the Plumas National Forest along the California-Nevada border about 35 miles northwest of Reno. The thinning is designed to reduce the risk of wildfires.

However, under the settlement, all logging must be done outside an estimated 600 acres of old-growth trees the environmentalists identified in a federal lawsuit as critical to Goshawks and other wildlife.

The government also agreed to pay in excess of $15,000 in attorney fees and costs as part of the settlement reached between US Attorney John Vincent in Sacramento and the environmentalists who brought the suit, the Plumas Forest Project and Forest Conservation Council.

The settlement comes as the Forest Service evaluates proposals to roll back protections for old-growth forests throughout the Sierra. Rachel Fazio is a lawyer for the John Muir Project, which represented the conservation groups. She says the settlement is a major victory. She says it means a lot of old growth on the east side of the Sierra will “live to see another day.”