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Should the National Park Service compensate the U.S. Forest Service for damages caused by the Reading Fire last summer?
The Quincy Library Group members think so and they unanimously passed a resolution to ask the Park Service to transfer $10 million to the Forest Service.
“This probably won’t go anywhere, but it may make them sensitive to their neighborhood,” Quincy Library Group co-founder Bill Coates said during a QLG meeting April 25.
The Reading Fire began July 23, 2012, in Lassen Volcanic National Park. By the time the lightning-caused fire was 100 percent contained Aug. 22, 2012, it had burned nearly 30,000 acres — 16,993 acres in the park, 11,071 acres on Forest Service land and 75 private acres.
“The Lassen is incurring substantial costs to restore the forests,” Coates said.
Tim Holabird, a field representative for Congressman Doug LaMalfa, brought the idea to the Quincy Library Group.
“The Park Service is a shame,” Holabird said. “They just don’t care.”
Holabird and QLG take issue with the Park Service’s policy to let fires burn when they start on national park land. While it might be the Park Service’s forest management approach, issues arise when the fire spreads to adjacent lands.
The Lassen National Forest spent more than $2 million suppressing the fire. Additional costs will be incurred to restore the forest.
Holabird advanced the idea of asking for a transfer, but Steve Brink from the California Forestry Association threw out a number.
“I would urge the congressman to ask the Park Service to transfer $10 million to Jerry Bird (supervisor of the Lassen National Forest) for the consequences of the Reading Fire.”
Holabird said he would and added, “We feel the Park Service has insulted the Forest Service and the general public.”
Judge’s decision applauded
“This is a definitive ruling that it’s OK to have a commercial activity on the forest,” Quincy Library Group member John Sheehan said.
United States District Court Judge Morris England issued his ruling April 15. In it he denied the Sierra Forest Legacy’s request that the Sierra Nevada Framework be vacated and that an injunction be issued for existing projects.
Sierra Forest Legacy had filed suit against the Forest Service and the Quincy Library Group seeking the actions.
“The Forest Service is not enjoined from carrying out the projects,” Sheehan said.
He added that the judge’s 28-page ruling included some “interesting language,” such as the need to harvest “larger trees” and that a “commercial component” is important to treat acreage to reduce the threat of fire.
Sheehan said the judge concluded that it’s in the public’s interest to carry out the Herger-Feinstein Quincy Library Group Act.
“It’s important to get that message across to Congress,” Sheehan said.
However, the judge ordered that the Forest Service complete a supplemental environmental impact study by Aug. 31.
The Sierra Forest Legacy could appeal the decision, but “the plaintiffs are running out of things to appeal,” said Steve Brink of the California Forestry Association.
Representatives from the Plumas and Lassen national forests, as well as the Sierraville Ranger District of the Tahoe National Forest, regularly attend the QLG meetings and provide monthly updates.
Bird, Lassen’s forest supervisor, said that fire salvage from the Reading and Chips fires represents the bulk of the work, but there are also two small projects on the Eagle Lake Ranger District.
Laurence Crabtree, deputy forest supervisor for the Plumas, said that logging salvage also accounts for the bulk of the work currently being done.
“We fully met our timber target sale this year,” Crabtree said.
Timothy Evans, the natural resource officer for the Sierraville Ranger District, discussed a number of projects including the Castle, which includes a mixture of tractor and skyline work.
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