|A view across the Crawford Timber Sale area to the Marble Mountains Wilderness. Photo credit: Kimberly Baker|
In April, Klamath Forest Alliance and our conservation allies, EPIC and KS Wild, filed suit against the Klamath National Forest over the Crawford Timber Sale in the Eastern District Court of California. With legal representation by the Crag Law Center, the suit alleged that the timber sale violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the National Forest Management Act. Instead of taking its chances with this illegal project in court, last week the Klamath National Forest "withdrew" the Crawford Timber Sale, giving the old forests and cold water tributaries of the Klamath River a reprieve.
The Crawford Timber Sale would have logged off late successional forests and Northern spotted owl habitat in the Mid-Klamath River watershed downstream of Happy Camp, California. This included logging units in Crawford Creek, Coon Creek and Swillup Creek. Located in an important biological corridor between the Siskiyou Wilderness north of the Klamath River, and the Marble Mountains Wilderness to the south, the area is not only a stronghold for regional biodiversity and old-growth forests, it is also an important habitat connectivity corridor tying together wild habitats on either side of the Klamath River.
|These old forests were targeted for logging in the Crawford Timber Sale and have now been spared. Photo credit: Kimberly Baker|
Despite the current decline in Northern spotted owl populations throughout the Klamath Mountains — and throughout the owl's entire range — the project proposed to remove 139 acres of foraging habitat in forests currently identified as Critical Habitat for the Northern spotted owl. The project would have degraded four separate Northern spotted owl home ranges and involved the so-called "incidental take" of two reproducing Northern spotted owl pairs. This means that habitat for two of the last Northern spotted owls documented to be reproducing in the Klamath Mountains would have been heavily degraded by logging, possibly killing the owls or at least causing habitat abandonment.
We are cautiously optimistic that the Crawford Timber Sale has been withdrawn for good, but will also continue monitoring the project in case the Klamath National Forest attempts to repackage, reanalyze and reauthorize the timber sale in the future. For now, KFA and our allies have protected the Mid-Klamath Watershed and its imperiled Northern spotted owl population from this damaging timber sale
|Old forests and Northern spotted owl habitat were proposed for significant commercial logging in the Crawford Timber Sale. Photo credit: Kimberly Baker|
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