Angora Fire trees await action

By From page A4 | November 26, 2012

At least there are a few people in government with some sense. Count federal Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. among them and now even the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The 9th Circuit Court earlier this fall upheld Burrell’s ruling favoring the U.S. Forst Service’s forest thinning project in and around the Angora Fire area.

The Angora Fire in 2007 destroyed 254 homes in South Lake Tahoe and burned 3,100 acres that included 2,700 acres of national forest land.

The Forest Service planned to thin out dead, burned-out trees and some live ones to make the area less of a fire hazard.

Standing in the way of that were the unusual suspects of radical environmental groups that have done all they can to keep our forests dense fire hazards and our lumber industry shut down. The groups that sued the Forest Service were the Earth Island Institute and the Center For Biological Diversity. They claimed the Forest Service did not adequately study the thinning project’s effect on the black backed woodpecker, future fire behavior and climate change.

Burrell, however, ruled last year that the Forest Service had examined these issues “in proportion to their significance.”

The 9th Circuit went even further, publishing its opinion that the Forest Service’s analysis “was not arbitrary and capricious.”

The Forest Service completed its plan in 2010, three years after the fire. The burned trees by now have lost their marketable value and “will be hauled off for disposal at biomass energy facilities.” Also being cleared out is a large quantity of downed trees littering the landscape and affecting water quality, as noted by El Dorado County Supervisors Jack Sweeney and Ray Nutting last summer when reviewing a presentation on the Angora Fire area by the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board.

Both the district court and the appellate court denied the environmentalists’ requests for an injunction halting the Forest Service’s planned thinning.

All the groups did is waste taxpayer’s money and unreasonably delay life-saving solutions to an already burned forest near homes. This is one of the reasons it takes the Forest Service so long to do anything. It overstudies everything. Meanwhile the Tahoe Basin is still overforested with thin trees and fir trees that grew up after the pine trees were cut done in the 19th century for mine timbers in Virginia City. The whole basin needs thinning to leave only large diameter pine trees and aspen groves.

Mountain Democrat

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