The Watdog Project on the Plumas National Forest proposes the construction of approximately 4,000 acres of defense fuel protection zone, and group selection on 203 acres. Sierra Forest Legacy submitted scoping comments on the Watdog Project in January 2005, comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in August 2005, and appealed the first Record of Decision in November 2005. After the court ordered that new environmental analysis have to be prepared for the project a Supplemental EIS was prepared and we once again submitted comments on this revised plan in October 2006, and filed another appeal in May 2007. This appeal was to the Record of Decision on the Supplemental EIS.
The primary reason behind this process requiring two separate Environmental Impact Statements is the inability of the Forest Service to undertake the required environmental analysis for this project. After being rebuffed by the legal system after the initial EIS was completed the Forest Service did change the proposed action is some small ways but still proposed an action that lacked the required environmental analysis and whose implementation would cause significant adverse impacts to wildlife species and sensitive forest habitats.
Among the reasons for our continued opposition to this project are:
- Despite our substantive comments on the project, the final Watdog decision appears to be essentially unchanged from the original proposed action despite being informed of important science which they had neglected to site or consider.
- Although the Forest Service has supplemented its environmental analysis, the FSEIS continues to fail to provide essential information and analysis that would allow for careful consideration of the project’s environmental impacts.
- The lack of proper and thorough analysis causes us to be concerned about the Watdog project’s impacts to sensitive species, management indicator species, and species at risk, including the California spotted owl, the American marten, and the Pacific fisher.
- The project’s plan to log within relatively high quality old forest habitat poses a threat to that unique ecosystem which so many species are dependent upon for continued survival.