Creeks II: September 2012 update
In July 2012, the Forest Service released the Final EIS and decision to adopt Alternative 3 for the Creeks Project. In August of 2012, we filed a formal objection to the project. Our objections were denied by the Forest Service in their official response, September 2012.
The Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the revised Creeks Project ("Creeks II") was released in November, 2011. We continue to have concerns about the project's impacts to rare wildlife, particularly since the Forest Service has failed to adequately fund and implement the adaptive management and monitoring programs that are required by the forest plan. Legacy's comments on the DEIS can be read here.
History of the Creeks Project
The Creeks Project (the "Creeks Forest Health Recovery Project") was proposed in 2005 on the Lassen National Forest and proposed intensive and widespread logging within an ecologically significant area and would adversely affect the area’s environmental values, particularly habitat for old forest associated species such as the California spotted owl and American marten. After reviewing the project Sierra Forest Legacy began the process of fighting the project’s implementation. The project proposed to log 10,435 acres, including 5,905 acres of Defense Fuel Profile Zones (DFPZ’s), 3,285 acres of thinning, and 1,245 acres of group selection.
After appealing the Record of Decision in November of 2005 and having that appeal denied by the Forest Service, Sierra Forest Legacy sought to stop the Creeks Project through the court system. After nine months, a judgment was finally reached in the case and the presiding Judge found for the Plaintiffs (SFL) and enjoined (halted) the Forest Service from implementing the Creeks Project until they had complied with the National Forest Management Act (NFMA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and al applicable laws and prepared and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) which complied with both NFMA and NEPA. This was a major victory for the threatened forest carnivores, old-growth forests, and ecologically sensitive areas targeted by this project.
Some of the primary problems with the Creeks Projects that led to the appeal and final court judgment stopping the project were:
- The project failed to disclose the ecological significance of the project area and the extent to which the Creeks Project will degrade those values, as required by NEPA.
- Proposed logging overlapped old forest emphasis areas (OFEAs) and scientific analysis showed that approximately 8,828 acres of OFEA would be logged.
- Proposed logging also overlapped areas of concern (AOCs) for the California spotted owl, and owl home range core areas (HRCAs). The Creeks Project would have logged approximately 551 acres of one AOC in the area.
- The Creeks Project would have logged a substantial amount of the habitat management areas set aside in the Lassen National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan to protect forest carnivores such as the American marten and Pacific fisher. The Creeks Project will log approximately 624 acres of the Lassen furbearer network. The project also failed to disclose or analyze the impacts to the forest carnivore network and its habitat values, contrary to NEPA.
- According to the Forest Service, a key purpose of the Creeks Project was to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire and promote healthier forests. Yet the planning document failed to consider a range of logging plans that could achieve these goals, and instead only considered the proposed action and no action. This failure to explore all reasonable alternatives makes it impossible to assess resource tradeoffs and to determine the most effective plan, contrary to NEPA.
- The project document also failed to take a hard look at the project’s likely impacts, including cumulative impacts of past and proposed timber sales and impacts on California spotted owl habitat.