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Locals react to Sierra Framework

SHANNON DARLING, Sun News Service

“If John Muir were alive today, he would be dancing a jig,” said Paul Spitler of the California Wilderness Coalition in a press release.

The release was sent out shortly after the U. S. Forest Service announced there would be a new management plan for nearly 11.5 million acres of national forest in the Sierra Nevada and Modoc Plateau.

The management plan is drawing praise from environmentalists in California and concern from those involved in the timber industry because it cuts logging by 50 percent and calls for the protections of the spotted owl and other endangered and threatened species in the Sierra.

“We think the plan is a tremendous step forward,” said Tina Andolina, a conservation associate with the California Wilderness Coalition.

Although extensive, the plan’s basic purpose is to protect the Sierra from catastrophic wildfire and at the same time protect wildlife.

“This is the right approach to preserving the spotted owl,” said Andolina.

Under the new management no logging can occur within 1,000 feet of a spotted owl.

As well, 5 million acres will be managed so that no tree could be cut over 20 inches in diameter.

In the past commercial logging companies in some areas could not cut any trees over 30 inches.

In approximately 2 million acres of Sierra Nevada forest service land, only trees up to 12 inches in diameter can be cut. The remaining 4 million acres of land will be treated as ancient forest, and no logging can take place on this land at all except for the purpose of fire prevention.

“It’s scary,” said Breeze Cross, owner of the Tahoe City Lumber Company.

Although it’s not known yet if the management plan will increase the price of lumber yet, it does have a few in the industry worried.

“It isn’t that it’s going to spike the lumber prices, but it pushes us toward using unrenewable resources, such as steel,” said Cross.

Developing the Sierra Nevada Framework took 2 1/2 years to complete and cost $12 million.

The Sierra Nevada Framework management decision came one week after President Clinton signed the Roadless Initiative, which banned commercial logging and road building on 58.5 million acres of National Forest Service land.


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