The 2013 Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park has brought together timber industry representatives and environmentalists in a new era of cooperation. Photo: Jae C. Hong, Associated Press Disaster sometimes comes with a silver lining. Last summer's 257,000-acre Rim Fire torched more than trees. The enormous blaze, which incinerated a large swath of the Stanislaus National Forest near Yosemite National Park, knocked out power transmission and threatened San Francisco's water supply. It also cleared away some of the toxic social underbrush that has stymied federal forest management efforts for many years. This could lead to more fire-adapted, resilient and carbon-rich public forests across vast stretches of Northern California.
Local environmental organizations, the timber industry and others have joined forces to urge the Forest Service to approve fast removal of burned trees from the Rim Fire area.
Yosemite Stanislaus Solutions, a coalition of environmental and logging groups, sent a letter to U.S. Forest Service Regional Forester Randy Moore on Tuesday, stressing the need for swift action to begin “salvage logging” projects on scorched parts of the Stanislaus National Forest.
“Unless speedy implementation is quickly allowed for whatever salvage logging is ultimately approved by the Forest Service, a tremendous amount of sawlog wood material will deteriorate past the point of having economic value,” the letter stated. “This would mean that the public would then need to pay in the future to have that fuel removed from the burn area.”
In 2010, a variety of forest interest organizations and agencies formed a collaborative group called Yosemite Stanislaus Solutions (YSS) under the auspices of the U.S. Forest Service. In January of this year, YSS became an independent organization as representatives of the timber industry, environmental groups, business interests, local government, state and federal agencies, tribal organizations, and recreational interests created a charter, approved governance agreements, and elected officers for the collaborative. Over recent months, YSS has engaged in outreach -- searching for grants and other funding to help implement highly needed restoration and fire recovery work within the massive 257,000-acre Rim Fire that burned so severely last summer.