STOP the clearcutting of 685 acres of the German Ridge Area sign now

Date: November 22, 2006

ALERT: The Forest Service is trying ONCE AGAIN to log and burn in the German Ridge Area in Perry County, Indiana.

From: Protect Our Woods, Heartwood, GreenFire Consulting Group, Indiana Forest Alliance and Tree of Life Alliance.

Date: November 22, 2006

ALERT: The Forest Service is trying ONCE AGAIN to log and burn in the German Ridge Area in Perry County, Indiana.

From: Protect Our Woods, Heartwood, GreenFire Consulting Group, Indiana Forest Alliance and Tree of Life Alliance.

The proposed German Ridge Restoration Project would clearcut 355 acres, shelterwood cut 120 acres, and thin 215 acres for a total of 685 acres of logging. The proposed timber sale also authorizes the building of two miles of new roads, the building of two miles of temporary roads, and the reconstruction of nine miles of existing roads. The project further authorizes prescribed burning of 2,170 acres, in one of the most popular recreation areas in the forest, an area known to be used by Indiana bats, and would likely add even more pollution to an area of Indiana that is already a nonattainment area for particulate matter. This is the first project the Forest Service is attempting to implement under the new Hoosier Forest Plan, which is still pending appeal from several environmental groups and individuals.

The German Ridge project has been stopped two times in the past ten years; the first time in the late 1990s due to the discovery of Indiana bats in the project area, and the second time, this past summer, due to the Forest Services appealing officers decision that the environmental impact statement did not include an adequate cumulative impact analysis, and that the costs of the road building were not included in the economic analysis.

This is the third time, then, that the Forest Service is attempting to recycle this same, environmentally and economically destructive project. A few weeks ago, the Forest Service issued a Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS) to correct the deficiencies in the last Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). In other words, the Forest Service is refusing to throw this project out, but instead, has merely changed its paperwork. The public needs to comment on this new SDEIS.

There is a 45-day comment period on this new Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS) that will end Monday, Dec 4. The document can be viewed by going to You can also request a copy by writing the Forest Service at Hoosier National Forest Supervisors Office, 811 Constitution Avenue, Bedford, IN 47421 or by calling (812) 275-5987. You can send your comments to the Forest Service at the address above, or by Fax (812) 279-3423, or emailing [email protected] Please send your comments into the Forest Service by December 4th!

Please tell the Forest Service that:

1.This is the third time the Forest Service has recycled the German Ridge project. It was a bad idea ten years ago, it was a bad idea last year, and it is a bad idea today. Nothing has changed to make this a good project.

2.The Forest Service did not move forward with logging and burning at German Ridge ten years ago because they found the endangered Indiana bat in the pine trees that they were planning to cut down. Nothing the Forest Service has done since then has changed that. The bats are still there. The Forest Service is failing in its duty to protect the Indiana bat, and instead is hiding behind paperwork (Biological Opinion) from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that allows the agency to cut down trees in Indiana bat habitat which may lead to the killing of some bats.

3.We disagree with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services Biological Opinion issued in 2006 that the Indiana bat is not in jeopardy due to this logging and burning project. The bats existence is in jeopardy from human interference with bat habitat and the bats need to be protected.

4.The Forest Service is planning a number of projects close to the German Ridge project, including the Mogan Ridge, Buzzard Roost, Goosetown and Tell City Windthrow projects. This area is the infamous Management Area 2.8 referred to in the new Hoosier Forest Plan and open to huge clearcuts from 10-40 acres. The new SDEIS still does not adequately address the cumulative effects or costs of logging and burning over all the different project areas combined. Nor does the SDEIS provide the public with adequate maps showing overlapping impacts.

5.Burning increases particulate matter in the atmosphere in an area of Indiana where there are high levels of particulate pollution (the Forest Service says they are exempt from the permitting process). The agency has not taken a serious look at the impact burning has on human health such as higher incidents of childhood and adult asthma, and on species such as amphibians, reptiles and birds. The Forest Service merely states that the animals will leave during the cutting and burning, and come back when it is over! Finally, burning releases more CO2 into the atmosphere, so makes a contribution to the further increase of greenhouse gases and acidification of our oceans.

6.There are no alternatives to prescribed burning analyzed in the plan.

7.Over the past few years, there has been an alarming increase in the number of prescribed burns in the eastern, midwestern and southeastern regions on both national and state forests. The Forest Service does not look at the overall cumulative environmental effects of this burning in the southeastern United States.

8.A new study by the Inspector Generals Office for the southeast region on the Forest Services (FS) fire program states that the agency, lacks a consistent analytical process for assessing the level of risk that communities face from wildland fire and determining if a hazardous fuels project is cost beneficial. The FS has not developed specific national guidance for weighing the risks against the benefits of fuels treatment and restoration projects. Therefore, we need to demand that the Forest Service take the Inspector Generals Office seriously and refrain from planning or implementing any burns in our region until they can assess realistically whether their proposed projects are harmful or beneficial to the region, or are simply being implemented to increase their budget.

9.The Forest Service states in the SDEIS that since the reason for the German Ridge Project is restoration and not economic, they do not have to think about the fact that the timber sales are all going to be money losers. In other words, the logging plus the burning will cost the tax payers hundreds of thousands of dollars over the seven years of the project. At the same time, the Inspector Generals report chastises the Forest Service for spending millions of dollars on burning projects that have no proven benefit.

10.The purpose and need of the German Ridge project is to restore more natural native hardwood forests with an increased oak hickory component. The way the Forest Service is purporting to do this is to cut non-native pine and some hardwood trees (685 acres) and burn the logged over areas plus other areas (a total of 2, 170 acres) after logging. The restoration of oak hickory forests is a questionable need since there is no basis to claim that a particular extent of oak hickory is natural or historic. There is evidence that the extent of oak hickory that the Forest Service is attempting to bring back was the result of heavy logging in the past. The forests in Indiana were more likely a mix of beech maple and other species, depending on site conditions. The Forest Service may be pushing oak restoration because oaks are more commercially valuable.

11.The Forest Service states in the SDEIS that the non-native pine trees they want to cut and burn will go away on their own. Why not go with Alternative B, the no action alternative, and avoid the high environmental and economic costs of logging and burning?

12.Another goal of this project is to provide temporary early successional habitat, which is supposedly in low supply on the Hoosier National Forest. Yet the Forest Service admits in the SDEIS that wind throws and other natural disturbances will produce early successional habitat naturally. We need to question why the naturally-occurring disturbances are considered insufficient in providing early successional habitat. Especially considering that the Forest Service way of increasing early successional habitat - by logging and burning - has so many serious environmental and economic consequences.

13.Furthermore, the tools the Forest Service wants to use to establish oak hickory, i.e., cutting and burning, are not even proven techniques. In fact, there is evidence in the literature that, due to deer browsing, this approach actually leads to more beech and maple trees, the very trees that the Forest Service is trying to get rid of. For example, on the Shawnee National Forest, the pine tree cuts did not lead to oak hickory restoration. Why then should we allow the Forest Service to log and burn over such huge areas of the Forest when the outcomes are neither desirable nor have the tools been proven to be effective?

14.At this point, we do not know whether anyone involved with the German Ridge project public input process or appeal was sent a notice of the SDEIS scoping process that happened during the summer of 2006. The public, and especially those who previously commented on the DEIS, should have been alerted and included in the process.

15.The Forest Service bases its oak hickory myth, which is a major component of the Hoosier Forest Plan science, on the results of a series of secret meetings with handpicked scientists/consultants. These meetings were held without public notice, one of them in Terre Haute Indiana in 2003. Heartwood challenged those meetings, which illegally excluded the public, as violations of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), and won. Since the oak hickory myth is used to justify the German Ridge project as well, the project is based on biased scientific information that was gathered illegally.

16.In the SDEIS for the project, the Forest Service says that they will mitigate negative environmental effects by following the guidelines described in the Hoosier National Forest Plan. However, these guidelines are just guidelines and are not enforceable.

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