While environmentalists and spruce beetles are happy that a salvage timber sale is on hold in the Dixie National Forest, some locals aren't too pleased.

Private property owners and timber company officials in southern Utah say the delay - which could be permanent - will hurt the forest and harm the local economy."I don't think they (environmentalists) are doing the public a favor at all," said Jan Stewart, who owns property adjacent to the forest. "They're not doing the forest a service. I think their actions will result in its destruction."

Dixie Forest officials implemented an emergency salvage harvest in what's known as the Rainbow Meadows area, east of Cedar Breaks National Monument. The harvest, aimed at curtailing a bark beetle outbreak, calls for cutting down 4 million board feet of timber on 495 acres of Forest Service land. (A million board feet is enough lumber to frame 71 typical, 1,700-square-foot homes.)

Arguing that officials violated the appeals process in approving the sale, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and two other environmental groups filed a motion against the Forest Service on Thursday to delay the harvest.

Environmentalists are concerned not only about "back-room" decisionmaking, but about the effect of the Rainbow Meadows Project and other salvage projects on the forest ecosystem, said Ken Rait, issues coordinator for SUWA.

"The cumulative impacts are such that they should be doing comprehensive environmental impact statements on these (timber projects)," Rait said.

But if SUWA were really concerned about the forest, they would not interfere with this salvage project, said Stewart, a resident of Las Vegas.

Stewart has already spent a large sum of money harvesting beetle-infested trees on his Utah property, hoping to save the unaffected trees. He said he and other property owners in the area fear that if the Forest Service isn't allowed to cut down its bug-infested trees, the beetles will attack the healthy trees remaining on his property.

"We still have some old big trees that are not infected, and we're trying to protect them along with some of the younger trees," Stewart said.

Halting the timber sale may also affect the local economies, said Don Olson, president of Kaibab Forest Products Co., which purchased the timber sale last Tuesday. The harvested timber was to go to sawmills in Panguitch and Fredonia, Ariz., just over the border.

"(The delay) will slow up and . . . could curtail our operations with unemployment," said Olson.

The two sawmills employ about 200 people who make about $30,000 a year in wages and benefits, said Olson. He could not say exactly how many of those people would be affected by the Rainbow Meadows Project delay, however.