Conservationists are suing to block logging in eastern Nevada proposed under a program to reduce fire threats to urban communities even though it´s one of the nation´s most sparsely populated areas.
Four groups filed the suit in U-S District Court in Reno against the Bureau of Land Management. They say the logging proposed across 47 square miles of BLM land in Lincoln and White Pine counties would turn juniper and pinon pine forests into nearly one billion pounds of wood chips.
They say it´s been put on a fast track as an “urban interface” fuel reductions project, typically aimed at fast-growing urban areas like those in the Rocky Mountains and Sierra where cities are increasingly infringing on wild forests.
The lawsuit says the projects are among the first of such a large scale proposed under the National Fire Plan adopted by Congress after wildfires burned large areas of the West two summers ago.
BLM officials are defending the projects as necessary to protect rural Nevada communities from catastrophic fire threats.
The suit was filed by the Idaho-based Western Watersheds Project along with the American Lands Alliance, the Committee for Idaho´s High Desert and the Land and Water Fund of the Rockies.
Anne Martin is the regional field director for the American Lands Alliance in Reno. She says the project would cause significant ecological damage to forests that are “not by any stretch of the imagination in an urban-interface zone.”
The U-S Census Bureau´s 2000 census reported populations of about 9,000 people in White Pine County and about four-thousand people in Lincoln County.