Tell the Forest Service to Protect Pine Mountain Ridge — The public comment period ends June 30. Submit Comment Here
The Forest Service plans to expedite logging in proposed wilderness and across miles of old-growth forest and chaparral, deep in the Ventura County backcountry.
The proposal, located in a popular recreation area, was announced amidst the pandemic, economic crisis, and period of civil unrest. It would allow the logging of centuries-old trees, up to five feet in diameter, and the clearance of rare old-growth chaparral along six miles of the prominent ridge known as Pine Mountain stretching from Highway 33 to Reyes Peak.
Despite the project’s massive scale, the Forest Service will not conduct a detailed study of potential impacts to the area’s unique ecoystems. Instead, officials announced that they will rely on a controversial loophole to bypass these requirements and limit the public’s ability to voice concerns.
The ridge is a remarkable biodiversity hotspot. Pine Mountain has some of the most diverse and unique habitats in the Los Padres National Forest that are home to dozens of rare or sensitive plants as well as animals such as black bears, mountain lions, and bobcats. Roughly one-third of the project area is within critical habitat for endangered California condors.
The project will require the use of mechanical equipment and may involve the construction of temporary roads, all of which can cause significant and lasting damage to soil, water, and plants. It is likely that the Forest Service will allow private logging companies to profit from the timber harvest in exchange for services, which all but ensures that forest health will not remain the primary project goal.
The Forest Service has proposed the timber harvest under the guise of community wildfire protection, but Pine Mountain is miles away from any community. Countless scientific studies demonstrate—and the agency admits—that the remote vegetation treatments are ineffective in protecting communities from fires that occur during extreme weather. These are the conditions under which wildfires cause the vast majority of damage to people and property in California.
Moreover, vegetation clearance projects can increase wildfire risk by removing fire-resistant trees, increasing heating and drying of the forest floor, and spreading non-native invasive grasses and weeds that ignite more easily and spread wildfire more quickly.
Information from IPFW.org
LINK FOR FURTHER INFORMATION https://lpfw.org/forest-service-to-expedite-logging-and-habitat-clearance-in-proposed-wilderness-on-pine-mountain/