What Caused the Delay in "Craggy Project" Planning?
Small Diameter Thinning and Prescribed Fire in the Wildland Urban Interface for Yreka Was Stuck in the Planning Pipeline for Over 7 Years.
Forest Service Statement on Impact of Salvage Logging on Planning of Fuels Reduction Projects
"Many of us [Forest Service employees] had already spent long hours working through the Salmon Salvage Project (2014) and the Westside Fire Recovery Project (2016) and were reluctant to take on another large project, especially one that would require meeting an accelerated timeline. I also knew that putting forth a post-fire project would mean putting other green projects on hold, potentially risking having other areas burn in the future that could have been treated had we not reallocated resources for this project."
-Klamath National Forest Supervisor, Horse Creek Salvage Final Record of Decision, page 22.
In 2012, the Yreka Area Fire Safe Council and Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Center began to plan the Craggy Project to reduce fuels around the city of Yreka. This outreach effort led to public field trips in 2012 and 2013. Comments were sought from a number of other organizations and Indian tribes; those providing input during this process included the City of Yreka, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CALFIRE), US Fish and Wildlife Service, Shasta Tribe Inc., California Deer Association and the Office of the State Senator for the area including the project.
Quote From September 2017 Craggy Vegetation Management Project DEIS (Klamath National Forest, Salmon/Scott Ranger District) pages 10-11:
"Planning for this project was initiated in 2010. The project was first published to the Schedule of Proposed Actions and the Forest website on April 1, 2010.
Scoping was originally planned for spring 2014 but was delayed due to agency personnel changes and the reprioritization of resources in response to large-scale wildfires in 2013 and 2014…”
The KNF “Response to Large-Scale Wildfires,” Since 2010 Includes the Following Controversial Post-Fire Logging Projects
KNF Forest Supervisor signs decision document to salvage log the Panther Fire in the Happy Camp District. Rather than work on small-diameter fuels projects the KNF proposes salvage logging clearcutting in the backcountry on steep decomposed granitic slopes within the Elk Creek Key Watershed for salmon recovery. Project planners acknowledge the salvage logging will increase fire hazard:
“Upon completion of project activities [via Alternative 2], fire behavior would in the short term be greater than under Alternative 1 due to the small diameter material on site...[the] predicted rate of fire spread by year 20 is actually higher than under no action.”
-Panther Salvage Environmental Assessment, Klamath National Forest, at page 55.
KNF Forest Supervisor initiates a planning effort to salvage log large-diameter snags deep within the Kangaroo Inventoried Roadless Area (IRA) associated with the Goff fire. Happy Camp Ranger District. The Kangaroo Roadless Area is one of the largest, most intact unprotected forested landscapes in California. After expending months of staff time pushing backcountry roadless area salvage clearcutting (instead of proceeding with planning small-diameter thinning projects near homes and communities) the KNF acknowledges that it is unlikely to succeed in post-fire clearcutting of the Kangaroo Roadless Area and scales back its logging proposal.
The KNF Forest Supervisor signs a decision to conduct post-fire clearcutting in the Salmon River Salvage timber sale. The controversial backcountry salvage logging project is litigated and the KNF settles the case by agreeing to drop numerous logging units located within Late-Successional Reserves (LSRs) within the Salmon River Key Watershed for salmon recovery. A great deal of Forest Service staff and legal resources were expended to log the remaining back-country salvage logging units, which included harmful wet-weather logging and haul activities.
The KNF Forest Supervisor signs a decision to clearcut thousands of acres of post-fire forests located within the Late-Successional Reserve (LSR) land use allocation. 12,000 comments are received in opposition to the proposed clearcutting. The Karuk Tribe presents a management proposal (Karuk Alternative) that is generally supported but that is rejected by the KNF in favor of controversial clearcutting and post-fire logging road construction in salmon-bearing watersheds. The US Fish and Wildlife Service issues KNF timber planners “take permits” for over 100 Northern spotted owls. Old-growth forests are sold to timber companies for $0.50 per thousand board feet, less than $2.00 a log truck. Post-logging fuels treatments have not been completed. The project is still the subject of litigation.
The KNF pushes ahead with another post-fire logging proposal, the Horse Creek Salvage logging project. Resources are again diverted from potential second-growth green tree thinning projects. After initially proposing and planning backcountry clearcut logging on the Siskiyou Crest, the KNF responds to project “objections” by working with interested stakeholders to reduce project impacts and increase protection for homes and communities.