Local Activists Sue to Prevent Logging in Condor Habitat

Local Activists Sue to Prevent Logging in Condor Habitat title=
Local Activists Sue to Prevent Logging in Condor Habitat
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Source: Los Padres National Forest Watch

Conservation groups sued the Trump administration [Wednesday] to halt a logging project in a roadless area of Los Padres National Forest that would destroy prime habitat for endangered California condors. Because of the project’s remote location, it also would fail to protect communities from wildfires as federal officials have claimed.
 
[Wednesday's] lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, says the U.S. Forest Service violated federal law by approving the removal of large-diameter trees along 12 miles of Tecuya Ridge in the San Emigdio Mountains, including in the rugged Antimony Roadless Area. Under federal law, logging in roadless areas is limited to smaller trees.

“There is simply no place for commercial logging in California condor country,” said Bryant Baker, conservation director for Los Padres ForestWatch. “It’s highly concerning that the Forest Service would push this project through without a full environmental review and in spite of widespread opposition from local communities.”

The Forest Service approved the Tecuya Ridge project in April after excluding it from environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act. That limited public input and prevented consideration of alternatives, such as creating defensible space immediately adjacent to the communities at risk.

“Logging old-growth trees in remote forests will not protect homes from fire. In fact it’s a dangerous distraction,” said Chad Hanson of the John Muir Project of Earth Island Institute. “Instead we should focus our resources on helping people make their homes fire-safe.”

Studies have repeatedly shown the importance of retaining larger, fire-resistant trees to reduce the risk of high-intensity fire. The Forest Service has approved the removal of trees of all sizes throughout the project area.

Research also shows that community-focused fire-safe measures are more successful and cost-effective than removing trees and vegetation in the backcountry. Those measures include creating defensible space around properties, retrofitting homes with fire-safe materials, improving early warning and evacuation systems, creating fireproof community shelters and curbing new development in fire-prone areas.

“This destructive project will harm endangered condors by logging habitat that these magnificent raptors use for roosting,” said Justin Augustine, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Forest Service should be helping people make their properties fire safe instead of logging wildlife habitat in a beautiful national forest. The Trump administration recklessly OK’d a project that can actually increase fire threats by cutting big, flame-resistant trees.”

The logging area includes prime habitat for endangered California condors in mixed conifer and pinyon-juniper forest.

According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service condor tracking data, the project could harm more than 50 condor roost sites. These roost sites are typically large dead or live trees that are used by condors for resting overnight between long flights.

Federal standards require a minimum half-mile buffer from condor roosting sites to protect them from disturbances such as logging. The Forest Service has provided no protections for the roosting sites because it denies that they exist.

Local opposition to the project was substantial—98 percent of the comments submitted to the Forest Service were opposed to commercial logging in the area and the lack of environmental review. In June local community members submitted a petition with 275 signatures asking the Forest Service to stop the project.

 

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
 
Los Padres ForestWatch is a local, community-supported nonprofit organization focused on protecting the Los Padres National Forest and other public lands throughout California’s central coast region.
 
Earth Island Institute is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to develop and support projects that counteract threats to the biological and cultural diversity that sustains the environment. The mission of the John Muir Project is to protect all federal public forestlands from exploitation that undermines and compromises science-based ecological management.
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PitMix Jul 16, 2019 03:30 PM
Local Activists Sue to Prevent Logging in Condor Habitat

Love those "conservatives" that suppress natural fire activity for decades, allowing undergrowth to take over, and cause really intense fires. Then they claim that we have to "thin" the forests in order to save them (but primarily the development in the wildfire interface areas). Which shell is the pea under? Weren't you watching? Just like when they killed off all the predators, then claimed hunting was necessary to cull the resultant deer herds and keep them healthy. So not conservative.

Shasta Guy Jul 15, 2019 08:40 PM
Local Activists Sue to Prevent Logging in Condor Habitat

There’s a KCET article from 2013 that the Feds changed policy in 2011 that allows for condor death(s) at a wind generation facility near Tehachapi without any repercussions. The article is entitled “Killing a Condor is Okay at Wind Project”. Now I really wonder just how many turbines have killed these birds and if they are keeping the statistics out of the public eye. It’s bad enough the bald eagles get killed, but condors??!!

tagdes Jul 16, 2019 12:54 PM
Local Activists Sue to Prevent Logging in Condor Habitat

@7:19 Maybe you should read the article before you jump in. First, old oaks are not prime Condor habitat...but that's a moot point because we're not even talking about them. These are conifers and pinion juniper which along with Redwoods and Sequoia are prime roosting spots and....no....it wouldn't threaten as much as the removal because they can and do roost on dead snags.

Shasta Guy Jul 15, 2019 07:08 PM
Local Activists Sue to Prevent Logging in Condor Habitat

I’d be more concerned about condors getting killed in large scale wind turbine installations. Raptors and other large birds of prey are regularly killed by them but we turn a blind eye. I wonder how many condors have already been killed by turbines?

a-1566598068 Jul 15, 2019 03:51 PM
Local Activists Sue to Prevent Logging in Condor Habitat

Do these people live under a rock or something or refuse to see reality? NO amount of defensible space would have protected DT from the out of control Thomas Fire. All of DT was shut down, entirety of state street up to MIssion went dark. Why? Because of lack of thinning and controlled burning, that's why.; That fire didn't just affect those in fire prone areas - it affected all of us.

tagdes Jul 15, 2019 04:40 PM
Local Activists Sue to Prevent Logging in Condor Habitat

Kind of contradicting yourself there. Thinning and especially controlled burning is done to create defensible space. So which is it. Not to mention that from where they stopped it there was basically nothing but houses and yards between it and DT.

Z Jul 15, 2019 04:49 PM
Local Activists Sue to Prevent Logging in Condor Habitat

Nice sentiment Flicka, but the notion that there are sustainable numbers of California Condors is doubtful. A bad winter or avian flu episode and the species is extinct. When they last thrived they had many Grizzly Bears leaving lots of deer, elk, and cattle carcasses about the landscape. They seem too large and insufficiently robust to compete successfully with the Turkey Vultures.

giftedinSB Jul 15, 2019 02:47 PM
Local Activists Sue to Prevent Logging in Condor Habitat

I'm with the 5:30 comment. Cutting down trees is a way to reduce fuel and the risk of wildfires. You kind of have to pick your priorities here - wildlife preservation or wildfire prevention.

a-1566598068 Jul 15, 2019 10:39 AM
Local Activists Sue to Prevent Logging in Condor Habitat

Lost all interest in the press release when I saw the cover photo of nicely cut firewood. Split it, age it, and burn it on a cold winter's eve. But that ain't a photo of timber logging.

ParvoPup Jul 15, 2019 08:37 PM
Local Activists Sue to Prevent Logging in Condor Habitat

I own three acres in the Central Sierra above bass Lake - we are part of the 149 million dead bark beetle killed pine trees. Since 2015, two major fires have devestated the area around us. Luckily, our summer community decided to cut and clear so that instead of the jungle of tangled undergrowth that people thinks is natural - we have the traditional Sierra where healthy trees are stand 20 feet apart. We didn't burn last year when all around us did.

SBZZ Jul 15, 2019 08:35 AM
Local Activists Sue to Prevent Logging in Condor Habitat

Thanks Forest Watch. Any benefit from this program would be far out-weighed by the harm done to that incredibly special and beautiful far corner of the forest. It blows my mind how some people that live in and next to the forest refuse to take responsibility for living in the reality of wild fire and instead expect the authorities to bail them out of their risk with all kinds of preposterous ideas like this tree-cutting program.

jak Jul 15, 2019 08:00 AM
Local Activists Sue to Prevent Logging in Condor Habitat

The increases in importation of lumber in the nineties (mostly from Canada) hardly made a scratch in California demand for local timber. Most of the Canadian imports after NAFTA was signed went to states with limited local production. With a lot of California building codes structured around coastal Douglas Fir that’s not gonna change soon either.

a-1566598068 Jul 14, 2019 05:30 PM
Local Activists Sue to Prevent Logging in Condor Habitat

This article is one-sided and misleading. For the other side see USDA Forest Service plan document “Tecuya Ridge Shaded Fuel Break Project.” The Forest Service project is not a “commercial logging” project as claimed in the Edhat article, but is a project is designed to help protect the communities of Pine Mountain Club, Pinon Pines Estates, Lake of the Woods and Frazier Park from a potential large wildfire. Chad Hanson of the John Muir Project proposes instead that people make their homes “fire-safe.” We lived through the Thomas fire where cyclonic winds were pushing flame fronts directly towards our house in Montecito. If the flames had reached us that December morning in 2017 our home could have been built out of cast iron and it still would have burned down. There is absolutely no way to make a house “fire-safe” from conditions as terrifying as those. The only thing that saved us was the heroic firefighters battling the flames in the hills above our house. And those firefighters need all the help they can get- properly thinned forests, better fuel breaks, better access. Ask them.

a-1566598068 Jul 16, 2019 01:35 PM
Local Activists Sue to Prevent Logging in Condor Habitat

File under: I don't know what I'm talking about. Look up the location of Tecuya ridge. Any thing up there won't amount to hill of beans for PMC. Like the CC fuelbreak meant nothing in the Thomas fire... I watched it come out of Matilija canyon at the Murietta divide. 100' flame lengths and 30-50moh winds. No fielbreak can stop 1/4-1/1/2 mile spotting. We shouldn't have to pay for your choice to live in an extreme fire hazard. Good luck with the home you bought in the tinderbox., that's on you. Firefighters shouldn't be risking their lives for "things" only for people.

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