Thursday, July 29, 2004

Forest plan has foes on two sides

Environmentalists, loggers appeal

The Associated Press

LEXINGTON - Both environmentalists and timber industry representatives have filed administrative appeals to the U.S. Forest Service's management plan for the 700,000-acre Daniel Boone National Forest.

The plan, unveiled in April, calls for increased timber harvests and burning to improve forest health.

Heartwood of Kentucky, the Cumberland Chapter of the Sierra Club and two other groups say the plan is full of sloppy science and puts too much emphasis on logging when polls show most Kentuckians don't want chain saws on public land.

The Kentucky Forest Industries Association and three other groups say the Forest Service is so cowed by lawsuits and appeals that it's not allowing enough logging to meet congressional mandates.

Marie Walker, a spokeswoman for the Daniel Boone Forest, said her agency is proud of the plan, which sets a new course for the forest.

"It will provide direction that will help forest managers maintain high quality water and a diversity of outdoor recreation opportunities, and improve the overall health of the forest as it faces serious insect and disease threats," she said.

Chris Schimmoeller, who drafted portions of the Heartwood appeal, said the new plan is better than one adopted in 1985.

"But there's a lot of stuff they could have done much better, and given that it took 10 years, they did a poor job overall," Schimmoeller said.

The Heartwood appeal charges, for example, that the Forest Service ignored advice of university experts and others when it planned for greatly increasing prescribed burning over the next 15 years.

The forest industry appeal says the new plan will allow forests to grow at a far faster rate than they are harvested.

The plan establishes a "new role" for logging in the forest. It will be used "first and foremost as a tool to achieve desired ecosystem conditions," instead of to produce lumber.

Under the plan, timber harvests would increase, but logging would not reach levels seen in the 1980s and early 1990s.

"This rate of removal versus growth ... will lead to overstocked stands subject to disease and insect attacks," the industry appeal said.

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