Take action to protect the Twisp watershed in the Methow Valley
Conservation Northwest / Dec 15, 2020 / Action Alert, Forest Field Program, Forestry, National Forests, North Cascades
WILD NW Action Alert #310: Send a message to the Forest Service by Friday, December 18 to stop plans to unnecessarily cut large, fire resilient trees and degrade wildlife habitat in the Twisp River watershed.
The Twisp River watershed is a slice of heaven ringed by rugged mountain wilderness and home to wolves, wolverines, Canada lynx, moose, mule deer, Chinook salmon, steelhead and bull trout, and an array of other fish and wildlife.
Situated where the shrub-steppe of the lower Methow Valley transitions to dry ponderosa pine forests and then the highcountry of the North Cascades, a history off fire suppression, livestock grazing, and old-growth logging have altered forest habitat here, resulting in legitimate forest restoration needs backed up by science.
Take action by this Friday, December 18 to submit public comments on a misguided forest plan proposed for this incredible landscape. Our action form makes it easy!
Since last year, the U.S. Forest Service had been developing a proposal to maintain and restore large and old tree habitat, improve watershed conditions, and return fire to the landscape for ecological resilience. It promised to adhere to the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest’s laudable restoration strategy, which aims to promote adaptive ecosystem management to restore landscape resiliency
Then things went south: Trump administration directives curtailed scientific and pubic review, reinstituted timber extraction targets as part of job performance evaluations, and in August turned up the heat to deliver more timber volume. Locally, the District Ranger simply shut the door to involvement by the community and North Central Washington Forest Health Collaborative to help identify ecological need and validate the type and location of restorative actions in forest projects.
Just before the election, the Forest Service suddenly dropped a massive timber sale on the Methow Valley community in the form of the Twisp Forest Restoration Project. Over the next 30 years across more than 28,000 acres, they’ve proposed logging large, fire resilient trees, including in stream-side and old forest reserves and other sensitive habitat. The Forest Service has also proposed non-commercial thinning another 24,000 acres, which can have forest and habitat benefits when guided by science, but due to a controversial, experimental approach called “condition-based management,” the Forest has been extremely vague about where and how exactly it plans to commercially log 10,000 acres.
Please take action today to submit public comments on the Twisp Restoration Project. Our suggested comments are available below. More information is also available on this webpage. And you can also comment using the Forest Service’s web form.
There are some good aspects to the project. Aquatic habitat restoration actions include significant road decommissioning, placement of large wood debris in streams to benefit salmon and trout, beaver dam analogs, and culvert and stream crossing improvements. There are plans for large prescribed fires. Some of the thinning, if modified by the best available science, could be beneficial.
The Twisp proposal can be fixed and gain public support if the Forest Service is willing. Use our suggested comments to ask the Forest Service for deeper scientific and public review given the scale, scope, complexity, and controversial elements of this logging and forest restoration project
Tell the Forest Service to follow its restoration strategy, protect large fire resilient trees and valley bottom riparian areas, preserve old-growth trees and important wildlife habitat values in the Upper Twisp, stick to smaller trees in roadless areas, and drop unnecessary fuelbreaks, salvage logging, twenty-two miles of new ATV routes, and other ecologically harmful activities.
It’s very important that forest managers hear from YOU to ensure this project is redesigned to ensure forest and aquatic habitat conditions are improved in this remarkable watershed!
Comment by email using our action form or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
Or comment using the Forest Service’s web form: https://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public//CommentInput?Project=56554.
Suggested comments on the Twisp Restoration Project.
Dear Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest Supervisor Bail,
I’m writing to provide comments on the Twisp Restoration Project environmental analysis #56554.
I support comprehensive forest and aquatic restoration to improve forest health and ecological resilience in the Twisp River watershed, as was done in the Mission Restoration Project, such as maintaining and restoring large and old tree populations, careful understory thinning-from-below of the younger trees, removing unnecessary roads, improving conditions for fish and wildlife habitat, and restoring periodic fire for ecological resilience.
The Twisp River is a unique and special place. It is the first place wolves were documented breeding in Washington state when they returned, and where imperiled spotted owls were last detected in the valley. It is home to wolverines, Canada lynx, moose, mule deer, mountain goats, Chinook salmon, steelhead and bull trout and an array of other fish and wildlife. It includes portions of the Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness Area, the Sawtooth Inventoried Roadless Area, Late-successional and Riparian Reserves, the Wolf Creek Research Natural Area, and critical habitat for spotted owls and other endangered species.
I strongly oppose plans to cut large (>20” diameter) fire resilient trees and trees over 10” in roadless areas, bulldozing trees in old-growth areas, salvage logging in Reserves and roadless areas, Riparian logging especially along the valley bottom, excessive shaded fuelbreaks, new ATV routes, and logging in the ecologically functional Upper Twisp sub-watershed, including quality spotted owl habitat.
Please remove these elements from the Twisp Forest Restoration Project; they are not supported by either science or the local community. Protect all old trees (>150 years old) regardless of size and species.
Given the Project’s massive scale, scope and complexity, I request you provide appropriate limits and monitoring where “condition-based management” is proposed, and prepare an Environmental Impact Statement to assess whether an ecological need exists for careful restoration actions in roadless areas, Reserves, and elsewhere.
Please show how the proposed actions adhere to the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest’s restoration strategy, and exactly where logging and other activities will be located and why. Environmental review must address site-specific impacts. Fire threats from extensive logging slash will be addressed in the analysis as well as impacts to outdoor recreation interests and neighboring communities and residents from logging-related traffic and other disruptions over the next 30 years.
Generally I request that you work with the North Central Washington Forest Collaborative and Methow Valley community to reduce the Project’s scope, scale, and negative environmental impacts.
The Twisp Project has some good elements. I support the aquatic restoration actions including significant road decommissioning, placement of large wood in streams, beaver dam analogs, and culvert and stream crossing improvements. The plans for large prescribed fires and maintenance burns are commendable. With the changes proposed above, the Project could improve wildlife habitat and landscape conditions, and gain public support.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Twisp Forest Restoration Project.