Klamath National Forest Drops Illegal Old-Growth Timber Sale
Forest Service Reverses Course Because of Litigation
Facing litigation that Crag filed on behalf of three conservation groups, the Klamath National Forest withdrew its controversial and illegal approval of a timber sale threatening old-growth forests in the cold water tributaries of the Klamath River and critical habitat for northern spotted owls, pacific fisher and northern goshawk. The “Crawford” timber sale would have removed old-growth trees that are resilient to fire, provide crucial wildlife habitat, and regulate streamflow and temperature of mountain streams that are critical to the health of the Klamath River.
Representing the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center (KS Wild), Klamath Forest Alliance (KFA) and the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC), Crag filed a federal lawsuit in April 2020 alleging that the timber sale violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the National Forest Management Act (NFMA).
“It is unfortunate that the Klamath National Forest refuses to work with the public to create projects that restore rather than harm forests and watersheds. It shouldn’t take a federal lawsuit for the Forest Service to acknowledge that it is a bad idea to log old-growth trees in the backcountry when there is so much work that could be done to help fire-safe homes, ranches and communities.” George Sexton – Conservation Director, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands
The Crawford Creek watersheds, located between the Siskiyou and Marble Mountain Wilderness Areas are a stronghold of low elevation temperate rainforest. The area provides vital habitat connectivity for wildlife and serves as a corridor for animals dependent on mature intact forests, like the pacific fisher and northern goshawk. For species adapting to and surviving the climate and biodiversity crisis, these closed-canopy virgin forests provide much needed refuge.
“We are relieved to know that two of the only remaining reproductive northern spotted owl pairs in the Klamath National Forest, will keep their habitat. This species is so close to extinction, protecting reproducing pairs must be a priority. And, in this day and age, ancient and mature forests should remain standing. They are our first line of defense in guarding against global warming.” Kimberly Baker – Executive Director, Klamath Forest Alliance
While the Forest Service has withdrawn its approval of the project, it is not immediately clear what will become of it. The Forest Service may attempt to paper over the deficiencies outlined in the litigation and repackage the timber sale. However, the conservation community wants to see the Forest Service stick to non-controversial work that will help protect communities while respecting the old-growth watersheds of the Mid-Klamath basin.
Crag has been involved in halting numerous timber sales throughout the Pacific Northwest as well as preserving essential wildlife habitat. These include saving old-growth and wildlife in the Tongass National Forest, protecting the Ochoco National Forest from off-road vehicles and advocating for long-range planning and protection for the Klamath National Wildlife Refuges. Click the Read More button below to learn about Crag’s current work to protect the wild.
KS Wild’s mission is to protect and restore wild nature in the Klamath-Siskiyou region of southwest Oregon and northwest California. We promote science-based land and water conservation through policy and community action. We envision a Klamath-Siskiyou region where local communities enjoy healthy wildlands, where clean rivers are teeming with native salmon, and where connected plant and wildlife populations are prepared for climate change.
Klamath Forest Alliance – ‘Our mission is to promote sustainable ecosystems and sustainable communities and our goal is to defend and protect the biodiversity, wildlife, waters and old growth forests of these wild and rugged watersheds’.
The Environmental Protection Information Center advocates for the protection and restoration of Northwest California’s forests, using an integrated, science-based approach, combining public education, citizen advocacy, and strategic litigation.