The management of California’s public forests will change radically if U.S. Forest Service Regional Forester Jack Blackwell gets his way. This week, Blackwell proposed allowing timber companies to cut more medium-sized trees from 11 million acres of forestlands in the Sierra Nevadas. The Sierras were heavily logged throughout the 1980s, destroying crucial habitat for species. Echoing the Bush administration’s party line, Blackwell claims the revenue from additional logging will enable foresters to clear brush and small saplings that fuel massive wildfires. But environmentalists say Blackwell and others are just using fear of fire as a smokescreen to permit more logging. The logging proposal is part of Blackwell’s sweeping review of the Sierra Nevada Framework, a plan to restore the region enacted during the last days of the Clinton administration.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.