NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


September 19, 2006

Environmental groups are unwittingly destroying forests and killing wildlife with lawsuits.  Ironically, they do so while claiming to save them, says Thomas Bonnicksen, a member of the advisory board of the Forest Foundation.

The latest example uses the California spotted owl and Pacific fisher in arguments supporting a lawsuit to stop restoration thinning in the Giant Sequoia National Monument: 

  • Already, many California public forests have grown dangerously overcrowded with 10 to 20 times more trees than is natural.
  • The Giant Sequoia National Monument is near the top of the crowded forest list; it already burned once, and it is certain to burn again.
  • In 2002, the McNally fire blackened 151,000 acres in and around the Sequoia National Monument, coming within a mile of the Packsaddle Grove of giant sequoias.
  • Without active management, it is only a matter of time before another major wildfire hits, possibly destroying all 38 sequoia groves in the monument.

Rather than protecting forests and wildlife with lawsuits, activists condemn them to destruction:

  • In New Mexico's Los Alamos Fire, 90 percent of the Mexican spotted owl's habitat was lost.
  • Between 1999 and 2002, the U.S. Forest Service identified 11 California spotted owl-nesting sites as lost to wildfire.
  • In 2002, the Biscuit Fire destroyed tens of thousands of acres of spotted owl habitat in Southern Oregon and Northern California, including 49 known nesting sites.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service cite wildfire as the primary threat to spotted owls. The Pacific fisher is also at risk because of catastrophic wildfire.  The forest thinning that activists have blocked is legal and necessary, and approved by the Clinton administration with environmentalist support, says Bonnicksen.

Source: Thomas Bonnicksen, "Dooming woods and wildlife," Washington Times, September 17, 2006.


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