Timber sale resurrected | PostIndependent.com

Timber sale resurrected

by Lynn Burton
Post Independent Staff

The White River National Forest has reintroduced the South Quartzite salvage timber sale, a move that environmentalist Richard Compton calls “a totally bogus deal.”

“I don’t know what the Forest Service’s current justification is,” said Compton, director of the White River Conservation Project.

The public has until Dec. 16 to comment on the South Quartzite salvage timber sale, said Dave Silvieus, Rifle district ranger for the White River National Forest.

The proposed sale covers up to 1,760 acres of dead standing spruce trees around Baxter Peak, nine miles north of Glenwood Springs on the Flat Tops.

The spruce trees were killed by a beetle infestation in the 1940s and 1950s, Silvieus said.

Up to 5 million board feet are proposed be harvested, at an estimated value to the Forest Service of up to $125,000, Silvieus said.

Forest supervisor Martha Ketelle approved the sale in 1998, but later withdrew the approval until the new White River National Forest Management Plan could be approved.

The Forest Service also hadn’t decided whether to protect Baxter Peak as a roadless area, another reason the sale approval was withdrawn.

With approval of the forest plan in 2002, Compton said the Forest Service excluded Baxter Peak from roadless protection.

Thus, the sale could be initiated again.

In 1998, the timber sale was opposed by Ancient Forest Rescue, the Colorado chapter of The Wilderness Society, Sierra Club and Light Hawk.

“There was a lot of concern from state groups, and it attracted some attention at the national level,” Compton said.

The Rifle Ranger District is using much of the sale’s original analysis to prepare a supplemental environmental impact statement.

“Many of the design features of the action alternatives are still valid,” Silvieus said.

Key provisions of the original approval included:

– The use of helicopters to remove 90 percent of the timber.

– Building up to three miles of roads, which must be rehabilitated following use.

– A logging period of three to five years.

Silvieus said the logs would eventually be trucked down Coffee Pot Road to Dotsero.

Baxter Peak sits midway between Glenwood Springs and Heart Lake on the Flat Tops, and is surrounded by Monument Lake, Duck Lake, Palmer Lake, Deer Lake and Blue Lake.

Silvieus expects to have a draft supplemental environmental impact statement prepared next spring, and a final document next summer.

The plans are available for public review at White River National Forest offices in Glenwood Springs and Rifle.

Contact Lynn Burton: 945-8515, ext. 534


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