On August 27th, 2014, the United States Forest Service of Stanislaus National Forest headed by Susan Skalski, Forest Supervisor, released the Environmental Impact Study and the Record of Decision for the Rim Fire Recovery.
This Record of Decision was created from many meetings and public hearings with all the local stakeholders including the California Forestry Association and local members. Some of the highlights of the plan are
- Salvage logging will occur on 15,377 acres. This will proceed via an assortment of methods including ground based logging, skyline/swing removal and aerial removal of dead trees by helicopter.
- Hazard tree (HT) removal will occur along 325 miles of Forest Service roads under this option.
- No new permanent roads will be constructed in order to accomplish salvage logging targets.
- Closed canopy forests are the preferred habitat of Spotted Owls and the high intensity of the Rim Fire negatively impacted 10 of their Protected Activity Centers (PACs), causing them to be retired from the system. Nine other PACs were remapped due to the damage. Spotted Owl occupancy surveys conducted over the summer revealed the need to create 6 new PACs based upon current usage, as recently discovered by wildlife biologists.
- When considering all lands impacted by the Rim Fire, all four alternatives would retain at least 75% of the modeled pairs of BBWOs.
Calforests released a statement from President David Bischel:
“We commend the US Forest Service for putting together an EIS and ROD for the Rim Fire Recovery on the Stanislaus National Forest within the targeted timeframe while keeping a transparent and open process. The California Forestry Association provided input into the process along with numerous other individuals and organizations.
Our members are eager to see treatments implemented that help restore the burned areas of the forest and that reduce threats to public safety posed by the standing dead trees created by the fire. Forest management activities need to be completed in a timely manner for the best possible outcome that contribute to restoration of our forestlands and balance the environmental, social and economic benefits they provide including a continuous source of cold, clear drinking water.
We are currently reviewing the EIS and the ROD.”
The EIS and final ROD will be available in print before September 5. Implementation of operations may begin after publication of the Notice of Availability in the Federal Register, which is expected on September 5.