Despite the regenerative nature of this summer's fires, the Klamath National Forest has proposed a massive salvage logging project — the Westside Fire Recovery Project (WFRP) — that would log over 40,000 acres of important post-fire habitat on public lands. The treatments proposed would log both green, live trees and fire killed trees. According to the agency's scoping notice, it is anticipated "that the majority of trees within salvage units will be harvested," including trees that survived the fire but the agency has decided are likely to die.
In my initial field research I have found numerous WFRP units that include high elevation species adapted to high to moderate severity fire, and stands that sustained less than 50% mortality. In many of the units I have visited, many large, green trees have survived the fires of 2014, but will they survive the logging frenzy to follow?
|Unit 508- Partially burned red fir (Abies magnifica) forest at over 6000' proposed for salvage logging|
|Unit 508- A very large unit on the south face of Tom Martin Peak. Much of the unit burned at low to moderate severity, including this interesting transition zone between serpentine woodland and high elevation forest.|
Currently the Klamath National Forest is accepting public comments on the Westside Fire Recovery Project. It is important that they hear from you. Below is a list of exclusion zones, project design features, and minimum prescription guidelines that could be incorporated into a public comment on this important issue.
· No salvage logging or planting units within Inventoried Roadless Areas, including the Grider, Tom Martin, Russian, Snoozer, Kelsey, or Johnson Roadless Areas.
· No salvage logging on sensitive soils, active landslides, earth flows and other erosive soil types.
· No salvage units on decomposed granite.
· No salvage and no tree planting units in Late Successional Reserves.
· No salvage units in Riparian Reserves.
· No salvage units in special habitat designations such as Northern spotted owl (NSO) activity centers, peregrine falcon or goshawk activity centers.
· No salvage units in Bald Eagle Management Areas.
· No salvage in Critical Habitat for NSO.
· No salvage logging in designated or recommended Wild and Scenic River segments.
· No salvage units in the Grider Creek drainage to protect roadless values, watershed values, scenic values — such as the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and connectivity between the Marble Mountains Wilderness and the adjacent LSRs.
· No salvage units should be proposed in the following watersheds or areas to protect ecological values, scenic values, and recreational qualities within and adjacent to large Inventoried Roadless Areas or Wilderness Areas. This would include the following areas:
Happy Camp Fire: Grider Creek, N. Fork Kelsey Creek, McGuffy Creek, Kuntz Creek, Tom Martin Creek
Whites Fire: E. Fork Whites Gulch, Sixmile Creek, South Russian Creek, Tanners Peak area
· No salvage in endemic or rare conifer stands and adjacent available habitat. This would include foxtail pine (Pinus balfouriana), Baker’s cypress (Cupressus bakeri), and Brewer spruce (Picea breweriana) to allow for natural regeneration.
Project design features
· No new roads, either permanent or temporary.
· No tree planting units; natural regeneration is adequate due to generally small patch size from high severity fire effects. Seed trees are nearly always present and regeneration adequate. Plantation style planting will only increase future fire risk and should be avoided at all costs.
· No helicopter units. Activity slash left from helicopter units is very difficult to cleanup and will increase fire activity in future fires. Likewise the economics of helicopter logging necessitates the removal of large, old trees and snags.
· No salvage logging should take place in partially burned stands that sustained minimal (less than 70%) mortality. Undamaged or partially fire damaged stands provide disproportionately important roles in ecological recovery and refugia for the survival of particular biota.
· No salvage logging in high elevation sites above 6,000’, including mountain hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana), red fir (Abies magnifica), and white fir (Abies concolor) plant communities. These habitat types are adapted to long fire return intervals and relatively high severity fire effects. Scattered snag patches are natural, and due to the landscape location and short growing season, will recover slowly and create minimal fuels as succession takes place.
Minimum prescription guidelines for salvage units
· Emphasize the retention of biological legacies such as large live trees, large snags, coarse woody debris, and intact thickets of unburned vegetation. These features should be retained in falling and yarding operations. (Lindenmeyer & Franklin 2008 p.29-34 & 143-146)
· Retain adequate large downed wood for slope stability and regeneration.
· Retain adequate snags for downed wood recruitment and cavity nesting habitat. This may include significantly higher levels of snag retention than in other logging applications — up to 25 snags per acre — due to attrition and collapse of damaged trees. The impact of salvage logging can often accelerate windthrow and attrition in snag fields.
· Snags with broken or forked tops, complex branching, cat faces, fire damage that will encourage hollows and cavity creation, large diameter trunks, and/or rot resistant species should be retained.
· Retain the largest live trees and snags in all salvage units. Consider the retention of snags in aggregates with scattered large snags in between the aggregates. Consider retaining groupings of snags around existing live trees.
· Retain all trees with green foliage. No “bycatch” logging of green trees should occur in any salvage unit.
· No salvage units on slopes exceeding 60%
· Burn all activity slash.
Please send public comments
Westside Fire Recovery Project
Wendy Coats/Klamath National Forest