NEPA completed February 2016; sale in progress
In 2014, the Forest Service proposed commercial timber harvest on 3,600 acres in the Lewis River and Wind River watersheds near Siouxon Creek, Trapper Creek Wilderness, and the Curly Creek area. While the proposal included some restoration thinning that made sense ecologically, the CFC was concerned about many components of the proposal that could detrimentally affect fish, wildlife, and their habitat.
Key issues with the proposal:
- Permitting logging within 27 northern spotted owl 0.7 mile activity centers.
- Removing 1,379 acres of northern spotted owl dispersal habitat.
- Removing 1,849 acres of habitat for flying squirrels, the primary prey species for spotted owls, for 12 years and potentially decades.
- Reducing no-cut stream buffers in riparian areas and allowing thinning just 30 feet from some streams and water bodies.
- Creating 31 miles of temporary roads, including 9 miles of new temporary roads, and 17 stream crossings.
- Conducting regeneration harvest (clearcuts) on 193 acres of land.
- Thinning adjacent to Trapper Creek Wilderness and near hiking trails including Observation Peak, Siouxon Creek, and Paradise Hills.
Positive changes to the proposal:
The Forest Service made some positive changes to their draft decision notice in response to our comments, including:
Despite the changes, the CFC did not believe that the Forest Service went far enough in addressing our concerns. In October 2015, the CFC filed an objection with the Forest Service, requesting additional relief. Through our objection and negotiations with agency staff, we were successful in obtaining additional significant protections in the final decision, including:
- Increasing the no-cut riparian buffers on all units to 130 feet for perennial fish bearing streams (160 feet on Little Creek and Rush Creek units); 100 feet on intermittent streams, ponds, and wetlands greater than 1 acre; and 60 feet for seeps, springs, and wetlands less than 1 acre – an overall increase of 30-40 feet from original no-cut buffers.
- Dropping units 102881 and 102879, which were proposed for early seral creation through regeneration harvest, and consequently eliminating rebuilding and brush-clearing of an access road through old growth.
- Dropping unit 103626b – Eliminated a stream crossing and road building because the temporary road to access this unit would have crossed a perennial stream.
- Dropping unit 1103165c – Eliminated a stream crossing and road building because the temporary road to access this unit would have crossed a perennial stream.
- Reduced number of stream crossings from 17 to 11. Eliminated these 6 stream crossings by dropping harvest units or adjusting access routes.
- Substituting thinning for early seral regeneration harvest prescription in unit 102918b.