Forest Service to Triple Sierra Nevada Logging

Citing the need to prevent catastrophic forest fires like the ones that plagued Southern California last year, on Thursday the U.S. Forest Service announced a plan to spend $50 million a year to thin forests in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. The plan would allow logging of 330 million board-feet of green timber a year, roughly triple the amount allowed under the Clinton administration. “You have to thin the forest to protect the forest,” said Regional Forester Jack Blackwell. “If we don’t take those actions, we’re going to burn ’em up. It’s as simple as that.” The Forest Service originally stated that 75 percent of the logging would take place near communities, to protect them from wildfires; the final plan lowered that number to 50 percent. Environmentalists criticized the plan for casting aside research on sustainable logging levels that the Clinton administration spent years and millions of dollars to produce — and wondered what other natural resources the Bush administration would save by whacking.