Monday, August 11, 2014

Endangered species get in the way of forest-thinning projects

Forest-thinning projects in Arizona and California have been put on hold amid concerns over the health and safety of endangered species in the forest. In Flagstaff, Ariz., environmentalists are worried about the negative effects tree-thinning efforts might have on the endangered Mexican spotted owl and the prey it relies upon to survive. In California, wildlife advocates concerned about the well-being of the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog. Lawsuits in both Arizona and Utah are just two of many legal standoffs, pitting forest managers against environmental groups. In California, the Forest Service's "Upper Echo Lakes Hazardous Fuels Reduction Project" is on hold as it awaits the resolution over two separate lawsuits. Plaintiffs in the suit say the thinning would unnecessarily harm the protected frog. A similar suit has slowed another thinning plan in Arizona. Proponents of the thinning plan say environmentalists are missing the big picture -- that forest thinning is good for the forest and thus good for the owl. "The Schultz fire showed us the price of inaction, and the fact that the voters of Flagstaff are willing to spend $10 million on the Dry Lake Hills project shows that they want this problem addressed," Stephen Dewhurst, an associate professor in Northern Arizona University's School of Forestry, recently told the Arizona Daily Sun. "Over the long term, that's going to be good for the owl and for us too."...more

1 comment:

Food for Thought said...

Here we have a project supported by a community of 65k and environmental groups with an agenda are going to try to stop it. Congress needs to do more to change the ESA and NEPA to balance what the FS can do. The law needs to be changed so these groups don't get their legal fees paid, and they need to be pressured to back off a project that 74% of the population in the City of Flagstaff voted to support.