Environmental opposition to Rim fire salvage

— Staff report

December 31, 2013 

The U.S. Forest Service plan to harvest salvage timber left by the Rim fire is being opposed by some environmental groups because of the harm this could cause to the post-fire ecosystem, which is believed to be beneficial to the overall recovery and health of the forest and its inhabitants.

The Rim fire, which was the third-largest in the Sierra, started Aug. 17, charring more than 400 square miles (257,314 acres) and leaving behind nearly one billion board feet of timber before being contained in October.

Prior to burning, these oaks and pines absorbed carbon dioxide and emitted oxygen, which is not only of great benefit to this ecosystem, but to the planet itself; vegetation near Yosemite National Park stored carbon that rose into the atmosphere, contributing to climate warming.

However, as a result of this massive fire, blasts of carbon were sent into the skies, and experts believe it will be decades before the forest will be able to return to this state.

Some experts have tallied the impact on the forestry ecosystem at an estimated $797 million. The harvesting of the timber at lumber mills would soften this estimate.

Proponents of harvesting said revenues from sale of the timber could be used for replanting affecting regions. However, because of the opposition, a bill has been recently introduced suspending the need for environmental review when it comes to salvage logging within the national forest, with a final decision expected late summer 2014.

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