Comments submitted on environmental assessment
The Upper White Salmon Vegetation Project is currently in the scoping phase of NEPA. At this stage, the proposal includes thinning in plantations and in some older stands to improve the landscape’s resiliency to fire, disease, and insects. One component of this project is the removal of grand fir encroaching on large, old ponderosa pines. Past land management policies, which included fire suppression, facilitated the rapid growth of grand fir in this area.
The CFC is supportive of the restoration portions of the project, but we are concerned with the parts of the project that involve thinning in older stands and thinning near spotted owl nest sites. Big trees of all species are important components of mature forest habitat. Although we support the removal of smaller grand fir, large grand fir trees can provide important spotted owl habitat, especially where there are no other large trees.
We are working with the forest collaborative group toward a project that retains the largest trees of all species for spotted owl habitat while improving the resiliency of this unique landscape in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. We closely monitoring the development of this project to advocate for sufficient riparian buffers, reducing the roads and temporary roads built, and protecting spotted owl habitat.