A Dixie National Forest timber sale is drawing criticism not only from environmentalists but from local property owners.
Dixie announced last week that it intends to allow a selective harvest of about 460 acres of trees within a 1,700-acre area about five miles southeast of Teasdale, Wayne County, on the North Slope of Boulder Mountain.Scott Berry, a Salt Lake attorney who lived in Teasdale for three years and owns property adjacent to the timber sale, said he may appeal the decision on behalf of himself and other property owners.
The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, angry that the timber sale invades one of the few remaining roadless areas in the Dixie National Forest, may also appeal.
Berry, who represents the Duck Creek Property Owners Association, said the timber-sale proposal violates state and federal law, will not benefit local economies and represents a drain on the national treasury.
Hugh Thompson, Dixie forest supervisor, said the project will improve habitat for the northern goshawk and other wildlife, reduce the risk of tree loss to insects and disease, promote aspen regeneration and provide wood for the nation's wood-products demand.
Wayne County officials have said the sale will boost the county's economy, but Berry disagrees, noting the sale is too large - 1 million board feet. "Local timber companies don't have enough capital to purchase that much."
A board foot is equivalent to an 18-inch piece of 2-by-4. It takes about 14,000 board feet to frame a typical 1,700-square-foot home.
Most likely, he said, a large timber company from the Pacific Northwest or from Idaho's Panhandle region will buy the timber.
In addition, the U.S. Forest Service has not been up front about the cost of the timber sale to taxpayers, Berry said, saying Dixie's cost analysis was "way off." The cost of administering the sale is far more than the anticipated revenue from the sale, he said.
"This is as close to a giveaway as it gets."
Berry said the timber harvest would also degrade the quality of Duck Creek, violating state water-quality laws as well as the Dixie Forest Plan, which calls for all timber sales to abide by state laws.
Ken Rait, issues coordinator for the wilderness alliance, said his organization will "take a long, hard look" at the timber-sale proposal.
"It's a small-scale sale but it involves a significant amount of road construction in a roadless area. The Dixie could have easily offered a million board feet from an area that was previously roaded. But instead, it chose a course of maximum resistance. It's real frustrating."
Thompson said the timber sale would require about 5 miles of new road construction, just under 1 mile of reconstruction and about 7 miles of road reconditioning. All of the new roads will be closed to motorized vehicles after the project is completed, he said.
"The mission of the Forest Service is to manage the (forests) in a sustainable way to meet the diverse needs of people. The North Slope project furthers this mission."