Forest Service seeks input from conservation groups on Angora tree cutting | SierraSun.com

Forest Service seeks input from conservation groups on Angora tree cutting

Adam Jensen
Sun News Service

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — Another round of U.S. Forest Service hazardous tree removal in the area burned by the Angora fire is expected to ramp up as soon as this spring – under the close watch of Lake Tahoe Basin conservation groups.

Environmental watchdogs lamented the cutting of large trees during the Forest Service’s Angora fire urban-lot hazardous-tree removal in 2007. In response, the federal agency said it will increase documentation and public participation during its removal of hazardous trees this time around. Tree removal will take place in the burn area on about 256 acres surrounding Forest Service roads and trails.

“To address concerns raised about felling of large trees during the removal of hazard trees on urban lots, Forest Service staff will document the reasons for marking all trees greater than 30 inches in diameter,” according to a statement from the Forest Service. “The project forester or silviculturist will also certify these trees as meeting the marking guidelines prior to their removal.”

The statement also indicated that the Forest Service will host a public field trip to the cut area between the time trees are marked and cut. Field-trip participants will be able to hear agency experts explain why particular trees have been marked for removal.

Since the 2007 urban-lot removal program, the Forest Service met with basin conservation groups to discuss concerns. Representatives of the groups appear pleased with the outcome but intend to follow the project as it progresses.

“We feel the changes the Forest Service has made to this project to be more transparent in their marking, and the invitation to the public to view their markings will also help re-establish the public trust that was impacted by the questionable cutting of several large old-growth trees last summer and fall,” Jennifer Quashnick, a representative of the Sierra Forest Legacy and the Tahoe Area Sierra Club, wrote in an e-mail.

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Tahoe Area Sierra Club Vice President Carla Ennis added: “We will do some sample marking with the Forest Service and walk the cut areas once they are marked to assure that only dead or truly hazardous trees are removed. We have lost so much vegetation and habitat. We must preserve what we can.”

Conditions in the burn area will determine the date of the field trip and ultimate start of the tree-removal project, which is likely to last into the fall, according to the Forest Service statement.