Underwood Roadless Area Threatened

Underwood Roadless Area Threatened

March 25, 2008

For more information, please contact: Scott Greacen, EPIC, 707-822-7711 or Christopher Len 541-488-5789

The Six Rivers National Forest recently announced its decision to build a permanent road through the Underwood Roadless area on the Wild and Scenic South Fork Trinity River. The road is proposed specifically to give Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI) cheap access to a landlocked 160 acre parcel containing never logged stands of old growth forest on Underwood Creek.

In order to allow SPI to build the road, the Six Rivers National Forest would have to amend their forest plan to lift the ban on developing in roadless areas. This would split the Underwood roadless area in two making it nearly impossible for it to be protected as Wilderness.

“The Forest Services central and most important job is to protect public trust values, not to allow dominant use that impairs other, threatened values, like roadless lands and fish and wildlife habitat, which, in this project has not even been considered,” says Scott Greacen, Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Information Center.

Underwood Creek provides critical cold water refugia to the South Fork Trinity River, which was designated as “wild’ for the outstanding remarkable fisheries values, including state and federally protected Coho salmon, imperiled spring run Chinook and steelhead trout. The road would have multiple stream crossings and effect rare botanical species. SPI’s outdated Timber Harvest Plan (THP) would clearcut with bulldozers, thin on steep unstable slopes, harvest old growth forest and spray toxic herbicides.

The Forest Service relies on a hotly debated law, the 1980 Alaskan National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), which grants access to private in holdings inside national forests. Under ANILCA, the Forest Service retains discretion to allow or deny access.

Christopher Len, legal director of the Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Center, said “ANILCA was intended for national forests lands in Alaska, and only applies to reasonable uses on private lands. Without an approved Timber Harvest Plan, Sierra Pacific’s proposed use is not only unreasonable, it is illegal.”

Although helicopter logging was considered as an option in the Environmental Impact Statement it was not chosen because of the added costs to SPI.

“Why should the taxpayers build a free road for SPI, so the company doesn’t have to pay a little extra to helicopter log their own private lands?” Len said.