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Sierra Club Applauds Sierra Nevada Forest Plan

January 12, 2001			

Craig Thomas    (530) 622-8718 
David Edelson   (510) 527-4116 
John Buckley 	(209) 586-7440

Sierra Nevada Forest Plan Applauded

Conservationists note the plan reduces wildfire risk while also
protecting old growth forests

SACRAMENTO - Environmental groups today applauded the U.S. Forest
Service for adopting a precedent-setting plan that will protect
the remaining old growth forests in the Sierra Nevada while also
reducing the risks of wildfires near residential areas.  It is
the agency's first forest management plan to incorporate the
Clinton Administration's policies on old growth forests and
roadless areas.

"The Sierra Nevada Framework represents a major step forward,"
said Craig Thomas, the conservation director for the Sierra
Nevada Forest Protection Campaign.  "This plan begins the process
of protecting and restoring the Sierra Nevada's ecosystems, which
have been degraded by decades of logging and road building
sanctioned by the U.S. Forest Service," said Thomas.

The plan, which aims to reverse declining populations of the
California spotted owl and other imperiled species, has been
under development for eight years.  An earlier draft of the plan
was withdrawn after a federal advisory committee identified
"critical shortcomings," which included "inadequate protection
for the spotted owl" and an unacceptable risk of extinction for
the Pacific fisher.

"With this decision and the recent roadless area policy, the
Forest Service is finally steering in the right direction," said
David Edelson, an attorney representing the Sierra Nevada Forest
Protection Campaign and the Natural Resources Defense Council. 
"However, it is too soon to tell whether the plan will be
sufficient to recover imperiled species like the California
spotted owl, the Pacific fisher, or maintain yellow legged frog,"
said Edelson.

The plan was adopted after a lengthy public process, with
numerous hearings and opportunities for comment.  Public comment
overwhelmingly supported stronger protection for the Sierra
Nevada's forests.  "We call upon the incoming Bush Administration
to maintain this new course, rather than returning to the
destructive practices of the past," said Bob Schneider, the
director of the Sierra Nevada Forest Protection Campaign.

The plan covers approximately 11 million acres, of which 4.25
million acres - or about 40 percent of the national forest lands
in the Sierra Nevada - would be managed as old forest reserves. 
Outside of the reserves, logging will generally be restricted to
small trees (under 20 inches diameter), though larger trees (up
to 30 inches diameter) could be removed in proximity to
residential and developed areas where necessary to reduce the
risk of spreading wildfires.

"As an ex-firefighter, I strongly endorse the plan's strategic
focus on reducing the small trees, brush, and ground fuels that
contribute to wildfire risk in the Sierra Nevada, particularly
near residential areas," said John Buckley, director of the
Central Sierra Environmental Resources Center in Twain Harte,
California.  "With limited resources, it is essential that fire
protection activities focus on safeguarding lives and property,
not on futile attempts to fire-proofing forests. We will be
watching closely to ensure that logging in the name of fire
safety does not become an excuse for heavy cutting in
ecologically sensitive areas," added Buckley.

The Forest Service projects that the plan will allow removal of
187 million board feet of wood per year in the Sierra Nevada,
which represents a reduction of approximately 40 percent compared
to timber sale offerings in recent years.  However, timber sales
represent only a very small percentage of the Sierra Nevada
economy.  The framework instead focuses on managing and
protecting the resources that truly provide the foundation for
the Sierra's vibrant economy: tourism.

Based in Sacramento, The Sierra Nevada Forest Protection Campaign
is a coalition of more than two dozen conservation groups,
scientists, individual activists and spiritual leaders fighting
for the protection of the public wildlands and watersheds of the
Sierra Nevada.

For more information about the Sierra Nevada Framework, contact
the following people:

Barbara Boyle - Sierra Club:
(916) 557-1100 x105

Jay Watson - The Wilderness Society: 		
(415) 518-2604 

Steve Evans - Friends of the River: 		
(916) 442-3155 x221 

Paul  Spitler - California Wilderness Coalition:	
(530) 758-0380

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