“South Sacramento” Timber Sale Proposed Near Castle Lake and Castle Crags

Meadows need fire: young conifers encroaching on a botanical hotspot. Photo courtesy KS Wild

Can the Forest Service take a New Approach with this Project?

Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Center

By George Sexton, Conservation Director 

The Shasta-Trinity National Forest has released preliminary plans for a large project located in the popular and scenic forests just north of the Castle Crags Wilderness Area in the Sacramento River watershed. The timber sale contains important habitat for a pair of Northern spotted owls that has successfully fledged owlets—an increasingly rare occurrence throughout the region. Portions of the project are located in wild unroaded forests that have never been subjected to logging before.

A Mixed Bag?

While locals and conservation advocates are concerned about the initial widespread logging proposal, there are several aspects to the South Sacramento project that seem promising. In particular, the Forest Service is contemplating investments in the area’s recreational infrastructure that would improve campgrounds and establish additional hiking trails. The proposals to restore meadows and riparian areas are also a welcome change in focus from the Forest Service.

fire scar
Fire has been here before: KS Wild’s Michael Dotson stands beside an old fire scar on a cedar in the South Sacramento timber sale planning area. Photo courtesy KS Wild

Dry Forests and Fire Exclusion

The mixed conifer forests located in the South Sacramento timber sale area have been significantly altered by decades of fire exclusion in what were once fire-evolved and fire-dependent forest stands. The question of how to carefully and effectively get these forests back in balance with fire is a tricky one. Will widespread commercial logging with its attendant logging roads, log landings, and yarding corridors do more harm than good? Can the Forest Service successfully implement prescribed fire treatments over time? Is the agency committed to dealing with “activity slash” created by its logging activities? So far the Forest Service track record on these issues is spotty at best.

Important Values at Stake

The wildlife habitat and the recreational, botanical, and hydrological values present in the South Sacramento timber sale area are off-the-charts high, and it is a place that is known and loved by thousands. The Forest Service, and all who care about these public lands, have a lot riding on the “agency getting it right.” If you want to advocate that Forest Service planners implement measures to protect habitat, recreation, and botanical values in the South Sacramento project area, the way to get involved and track the project is through the web page located at: www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=61863

For More Information: www.kswild.org