050307-A.EXLINE Logger Point Fuelbreak WUI Project  comment–

050307-A.EXLINE Logger Point Fuelbreak WUI Project comment–

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Sequoia ForestKeeper California non-profit 501(c)(3) Corporation P.O. Box 2134, Kernville, CA 93238 (760) 376-4434 www.sequoiaforestkeeper.org 7 March 2005 JOHN D. EXL1NE, District Ranger Marianne Emmendorfer, District Planner, U.S. Forest Service (559) 338-2251 Sequoia National Forest Hume Lake Ranger District 35860 East Kings Canyon Road Dunlap, CA 93621 RE: File Code: 1950/5150 Logger Point Fuelbreak WUI Project Dear Mr. Exline; Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the proposed Logger Point Fuelbreak WUI Project. On February 4, 2005, you announced the Logger Point Fuelbreak WUI Project, which outlined a number of issues that are being considered for implementation in the Giant Sequoia National Monument based on the guidelines as described in the 2001 Sierra Nevada Forest Plan Amendment (2001 SNFPA), which amended the 1988 Sequoia National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan. We support projects that would protect the health and safety of the residents in forest communities. We support projects that protect communities by thinning the trees in the 200 foot-wide areas immediately surrounding structures. As set forth below, we oppose the Logger Point Fuelbreak WUI Project on a number of bases and suggest that the project be postponed or severely narrowed. The information provided in the Logger Point Fuelbreak WUI Project scoping letter is inadequate and insufficient for a proper and thorough ...

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Sequoia ForestKeeper California non-profit 501(c)(3) Corporation P.O. Box 2134, Kernville, CA 93238 (760) 376-4434 www.sequoiaforestkeeper.org
  7 March 2005   JOHN D. EXL1NE, District Ranger  Marianne Emmendorfer, District Planner, U.S. Forest Service (559) 338-2251 Sequoia National Forest Hume Lake Ranger District 35860 East Kings Canyon Road Dunlap, CA 93621   RE: File Code: 1950/5150 Logger Point Fuelbreak WUI Project   Dear Mr. Exline;  Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the proposed Logger Point Fuelbreak WUI Project. On February 4, 2005, you announced the Logger Point Fuelbreak WUI Project, which outlined a number of issues that are being considered for implementation in the Giant Sequoia National Monument based on the guidelines as described in the 2001 Sierra Nevada Forest Plan Amendment (2001 SNFPA), which amended the 1988 Sequoia National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan.  We support projects that would protect the health and safety of the residents in forest communities. We support projects that protect communities by thinning the trees in the 200 foot-wide areas immediately surrounding structures. As set forth below, we oppose the Logger Point Fuelbreak WUI Project on a number of bases and suggest that the project be postponed or severely narrowed.  The information provided in the Logger Point Fuelbreak WUI Project scoping letter is inadequate and insufficient for a proper and thorough response that would include all of the issues that could possibly be involved in this project. Due to the inadequacy of the Logger Point Fuelbreak WUI Project scoping documentation provided to us by the Forest Service, we reserve the right to introduce additional issues of concern, which should be analyzed for this project, after we have received the missing information from the Forest Service.  The Forest Service many times claims it does not have to obey the law, because there were no comments indicating the law should be followed. Therefore, we wish to 050307-A.EXLINE Logger Point Fuelbreak WUI Project comment Page 1 of 14
raise the issue that all laws that apply to the project need to be followed whether mentioned in this letter or not.  First, since the GSNM Record of Decision and Management Plan are in contention and the subject of litigation, which is included herein in its entirety, by reference, we recommend that any action and decision be postponed until the outcome of the litigation has been finalized by the court. The issues stated in our appeal of the GSNM Management Plan, which is included herein in its entirety, by reference, address in detail many of the problems with this Logger Point Fuelbreak WUI Project.  Second, since actions proposed in this analysis include fuels reduction projects and since the Sequoia National Forest Fire Management Plan 2004-2005 is in contention and the subject of litigation, which is included herein in its entirety, by reference, we recommend that any action and decision be postponed until the outcome of the litigation has been finalized by the court.  Because the Fire Plan includes specific management directives that govern Forest Service action in the Monument, it is not valid until it is approved through a NEPA process that provides for evaluation of its environmental consequences. In addition, all decisional documents  including the Sequoia Monument FEIS  that reference and rely on the invalid Fire Plan  including the Logger Point Fuelbreak WUI Project - are also invalid under NEPA. The Forest Service's failure to comply with NEPA constitutes arbitrary and capricious agency action, is an abuse of discretion, and is contrary to law and to procedures required by law. 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(A), (D).  The Forest Service is relying on the 1988 Sequoia National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan (1988 LRMP), which is the management plan that is currently in effect and which states that groves are to be given either intensive, non-intensive, or preservation treatments. This plan is totally inadequate to protect Monument Resources. The guidelines as described in the 1988 Sequoia National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan address grove treatments by listing the groves and indicating which groves are to be given Intensive or Non-intensive treatments. The historical results of the Forest Services Non-intensive treatment can be seen in the Long Meadow grove where all trees smaller than eight feet in diameter were removed, which only left standing a few Giant Sequoia trees with no forest around them. This treatment area now contains a plantation of a monoculture of small diameter trees in a sea of flammable brush. Intensive treatments resulted in nothing living remaining in the forest where the treatment was implemented. For these and many other reasons, we believe that the 1988 Sequoia National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan is completely inadequate as a management plan for the Monument.  You state that you are relying on the 2001 SNFPA and, because the project is to be implemented in the Giant Sequoia National Monument, the 2004 Giant Sequoia National Monument Management Plan (GSNMMP or FEIS). The GSNMMP is less protective than the 2001 Sierra Nevada Forest Plan Amendment (2001 SNFPA or Framework). Since the 2001 SNFPA is more protective than the GSNMMP, you must rely on the 2001 SNFPA, in its entirety, including the maximum 20-inch diameter limit for removed trees. 050307-A.EXLINE Logger Point Fuelbreak WUI Project comment Page 2 of 14
 Also, the 2001 SNFPA contains conflicting and contradictory guidelines to those contained in the 2004 GSNMMP. The Logger Point Fuelbreak WUI Project therefore fails to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in that it fails to provide clear information for the Decisionmaker and the public.  For example, the Sequoia Monument FEIS includes much more of the Monuments acreage within the wildland-urban intermix (WUI) threat and defense zones, thereby allowing more intensive logging within a far larger area than contemplated under the 2001 Framework. See Deputy Regional Foresters Decision on Appeal No. 04-05-00-0115-A217 at 5. Unlike the 2001 Framework, the Sequoia Monument FEIS also allows mechanical treatment in certain spotted owl protected activity centers (FEIS at 107) and allows tree canopy cover to be reduced by as much as 30 percent down to a minimum of as little as 40 percent (FEIS at 106-07), threatening the viability of both the spotted owl and the Pacific fisher.  In addition, the Sequoia Monument FEIS allows the removal of trees up to 30" in diameter (FEIS at 104), while the 2001 Framework generally prohibits removal of trees greater than 12" in diameter within old forest emphasis areas and 20" in diameter in general forest and WUI threat zones. 2001 Framework ROD at A-41, A-47, A-49.  Your February 4, 2005 letter states I am proposing to allow maintenance of Logger Point Fuelbreak. This fuelbreak runs from the Kings Canyon National Park boundary below Big Stump entrance. Your letter also says This fuelbreak is important for the protection of Big Stump sequoia grove.  This project violates the letter and spirit of the 1990 Mediated Settlement Agreement (MSA). We note that one element of the lawsuit against the GSNM Management Plan (FEIS) regards the failure to comply with the MSA. The MSA modified and superceded the 1988 Sequoia National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan governing management of the Sequoia National Forest, including the area within the Monument. The 171-page MSA sets forth specific management directives and requirements for the Sequoia National Forest that are not contained within the 1988 LRMP, including defining and prohibiting logging and roads in the Giant Sequoia Groves, limiting timber harvesting elsewhere in the forest, and requiring NEPA compliance for further management actions relating to the forest. Some provisions of the MSA were incorporated in a 2001 amendment to the land management plan for the Sequoia forest, however, many were not. See March 8, 2002 Letter from Sequoia National Forest Supervisor to Mediated Settlement Partners at Table 2.  The 2004 FEIS illegally tiers to and relies upon portions of the 1988 LRMP without reference to the superceding 1990 MSA, and as a result, creates a less protective legal regime for the Monuments forests and vulnerable species than pre-Proclamation conditions allowed. Therefore, we recommend that, for any treatment proposed for implementation in groves, the grove specific EIS required by the MSA be completed for each grove prior to prioritizing proposed actions.   050307-A.EXLINE Logger Point Fuelbreak WUI Project comment Page 3 of 14
The 1990 MSA, by its terms, is effective until the Forest Service adopts a revision to the LRMP in accordance with the procedure specified in 36 C.F.R. § 219.10(g) (1982 version). 1990 MSA at 3. Because the 1988 LRMP was never revised to incorporate the 1990 MSA, the 1990 MSA continues to apply to management of the Sequoia National Forest including the Monument.  Although the 1988 LRMP was amended by the 2001 Framework, the 1988 LRMP was not amended, in the 2001 Framework or otherwise, to fully incorporate the 1990 MSA. As a result, it is the 1990 MSA, not the 1988 LRMP, which governs management of the Sequoia National Forest including the Monument.  The prohibitions on tree-cutting in the Giant Sequoia Groves contained in the 1990 MSA were not superceded by the plan amendment adopted in the 2001 Framework (see March 8, 2002 Letter from Forest Supervisor to Mediated Settlement Partners) and have not been incorporated into the 2004 FEIS. The 2004 FEIS fails to incorporate other provisions of the 1990 MSA that govern management of the Monument area, including the prohibition on road-building and mechanical/motorized entry within the administrative boundary of a Giant Sequoia Grove. 1990 MSA at 10 and 11. This is in direct violation of the provisions of the 1990 MSA, to which the Forest Service is bound as a signatory party.  The 2004 FEIS relies on management direction from the 1988 LRMP, where that direction is not superceded by the 2001 Framework. 2004 FEIS at 42. This is in direct violation of the provisions of the 1990 MSA, to which the Service is bound as a signatory party. The Forest Service's failure to comply with the 1990 MSA violates provisions I.G, I.H, II.X.1, II.X.2, and III.A.3 of the MSA.  After prioritizing all groves for their fuel treatment requirements, if fuels reduction projects were to be implemented in groves, we recommend the use of prescribed fire as the most ecologically beneficial fuels treatment with the least chance of damage to the grove ecosystem and the objects to be protected in the Monument. Prescribed fire should be implemented only following the removal of ladder fuels and small fuels from 50 feet around the base of large trees, to prevent fire from climbing up ladder fuels and into the forest canopy. This procedure is followed by the Bureau of Land Management in the groves they manage. We recommend that this procedure be analyzed and followed prior to implementing prescribed fire projects.  We object to the creation of openings in the forest canopy in sequoia groves, their influence zones, or their watersheds, because the currently contested Monument Management Plan fails to provide conclusive scientific evidence to prove that logging in groves, their influence zones, or their watersheds is necessary to protect sequoias or the other objects to be protected in the Monument. To the extent that you are proposing to move forward with such a project, full NEPA analysis of purpose and need, impacts, and alternatives must be conducted.  NEPA requires the Forest Service to analyze and consider the cumulative impacts associated with the proposed action, together with past, present and reasonably foreseeable future actions. 40 C.F.R. §§ 1508.25(a), 1508.7. The 2004 FEIS fails to 050307-A.EXLINE Logger Point Fuelbreak WUI Project comment Page 4 of 14
conduct a full cumulative impact analysis, so the EIS for this project must properly evaluate and consider cumulative impacts to species at risk, including the California condor, California spotted owl, northern goshawk, American marten, and Pacific fisher, in light of other approved and proposed reasonably foreseeable future actions, including but not limited to the 2001 Framework and the 2003 Fire Plan. Failure to conduct a full cumulative impact analysis using all available information from existing proposals that may impact the habitats or ranges of species at risk within the Monument violates NEPA and constitutes arbitrary and capricious agency action, is an abuse of discretion, and is contrary to law and to procedures required by law. 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(A), (D).  Removing trees, by logging or thinning, to create gaps, SPLATs, fuelbreaks, or to remove hazard trees will reduce the canopy cover in the Monument and in the Southern Sierra Fisher Conservation Area. Opening the canopy will increase, not decrease fire risk. Opening the canopy will cause the sun to shine on the forest floor, cause the forest to become hot and dry, cause flammable brush to grow where the trees once stood, and cause surface winds to increase in the forest, which all increase the fire danger and accelerate winter snow melt.  The Proclamation stated that past logging had not helped, but hurt the forest and in some areas destroyed the forest. The Proclamation recognizes that the Monument area is in need of protection to ensure the preservation of its unique resources: These forests need restoration to counteract the effects of a century of fire suppression and logging, activities that have lead to an unprecedented failure in sequoia reproduction in otherwise undisturbed groves, an increased hazard of wildfires of a severity that was rarely encountered in pre Euroamerican times, and  the virtual removal of most forest in some areas of the monument . (Clinton 2000) 65 Fed. Reg. 24095, 24097.  Your February 4, 2005 letter states This portion of the fuelbreak would be treated using mechanical equipment on portions of the fuelbreak less than 35 percent slope  .  This project would violate the protective intent of the Proclamation if it were to be implemented to log to cause the  removal of most forest in this project area. Tractor activity will compact the soil and drastically alter soil structure and hydrologic function and dragging logged trees to landings will cause sediment flows and damage soil structure, as well as cause sediments to build up behind dams, all of which will cause excessive resource damage in the Monument.  The 2001 SNFPA and the GSNM Management Plan fail to provide published, peer-reviewed scientific studies/research evidence to support the contention that removing trees larger than 9-inch diameter can reduce wildfire intensity or severity and protect communities, groves, the viability of the Pacific Fisher and other species, or objects that are to be protected in the Monument.  Removal of brush, ladder fuels, and trees of up to 3 or 4 or less in diameter, when necessary, is an effective treatment for preventing crown fires. Logging and thinning of trees larger than 9-inch diameter are not effective means of catastrophic fire prevention. Our position is supported by much scientific literature including the recent study of Omi 050307-A.EXLINE Logger Point Fuelbreak WUI Project comment Page 5 of 14
and Martenson set forth below. Sequoia and the Monument already have a backlog of logging-created brush fields that currently need to be maintained to reduce the fire danger that they present. Please provide us with a list of the current backlog of Sequoia's brush fields.  The Omi and Martinson study demonstrates that the removal of brush and small diameter trees is an effective means of fuel reduction. The report clearly states that it analyzed the fuel treatment of "precommercial thinning", debris removal, and/or broadcast burning -- i.e., the reduction of very small diameter material less than a few inches in diameter. The study did not analyze "thinning" as the Forest Service defines it  In the report, found at http://www.cnr.colostate.edu/FS/westfire/research.htm, titled "Effect of Fuels Treatment on Wildfire Severity", by Principal Investigators: Philip N. Omi, Professor and Erik J. Martinson, Research Associate, Western Forest Fire Research Center, Colorado State University, Submitted to the Joint Fire Science Program Governing Board March 25, 2002 the researchers state the following:   Like Pollet and Omi (2002), we also found the more common stand descriptors of stand density and basal area to be important factors [in fire severity]. But especially crucial are variables that determine tree resistance to fire damage, such as diameter and height. Thus, "fuel treatments" that reduce basal area or density from above (i.e., removal of the largest stems) will be ineffective within the context of wildfire management.  We therefore narrowed our definition of a fuel treatment for the purposes of this study to include only non-commercial or pre-commercial activities that involve mechanical thinning (i.e., low thinning), debris removal, and/or broadcast burning and that include moderation of wildfire potential as a stated objective"   Only take 6 inch diameter trees or less was the response of Jerry Verner, Ph.D., a respected ornithologist and author of a SNEP technical report on the California Spotted owl, when he was asked, at the Forest Services August 24, 1999 "Old-Forests" workshop, what size trees the songbirds in old forest habitats could afford to have removed by logging for fuels reduction.  "Old Growth is not the problem. What is needed is to take care of the underbrush and dry twigs. The majority of the material that we need to take out .is up to three and four inches in diameter. We can't sell it. Fire suppression and drought are to blame. We need a combination of treatments." (Denny Truesdale, Forest Service Fire Specialist as quoted on C-span [August 10, 2000]).  The EIS for the Logger Point Fuelbreak WUI Project must consider the cumulative impacts from the loss of canopy cover. The EIS must consider an alternative that would remove brush, small diameter trees up to 6-inch diameter, and ladder fuels consisting of the lower branches of trees, so canopy cover in the Monument and the remaining Southern Sierra Fisher Conservation Area will not be reduced.  
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The EIS must analyze the alternative of the use of goats to reduce fuels. The use of goats to remove dense underbrush and lower branches of trees should be analyzed as a less harmful alternative to thinning that would retain the canopy cover required by the California Spotted Owl and Pacific Fisher. "Goats nibble and remove the dense undergrowth of flammable grasses and shrubs as well as the lower branches of trees, preventing ''laddering,'' in which flames sweeping through grass climb trees and jump through the canopy of foliage to turn a once-manageable fire into an inferno". (New York Times article "Goats Used in California to Prevent Brush Fires", October 14, 2001). This endorsement of goats is not an endorsement of sheep.  Goats can be controlled in specific areas with either portable electric fencing or herding dogs. The goats would be prevented from going into riparian areas and other areas where critical native herbaceous and other species have a habitat. In areas where the goats were permitted to go, the goats would eat the lower branches of ladder fuel trees and brush.  NASA has used goats to economically control vegetation. (John Bluck July 8, 2002, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., - RELEASE: 02-77AR -GOATS MUNCHING, WORKERS MULCHING EARNS EPA RECOGNITION.  Your February 4, 2005 letter states Two years ago bark beetles infested the southern one third of the fuelbreak and adjacent plantations which has created a fuels hazard along this defensive zone. And The remainder of the area of beetle killed trees, and the northern two thirds of the Logger Point Fuelbreak would be treated by hand with personnel using saws and hand tools  .  Bark beetle and other insect infestations predominate in logged areas due to the so-called edge effect, where forest edges become elevated in temperature due to the removal of forest canopy caused by logging. By proposing fuelbreaks, the forest Service is causing damage to the forest ecosystem by increasing the temperature of the forest, which attracts insects that can reproduce more quickly in warmed edges of the forest. We recommend that a full EIS be developed to analyze the negative impacts to the objects to be protected in the Monument.  The Forest Service admits, in the Roadless Area Conservation Project DEIS, on pages 3-56 and 3-57, regarding the negative impacts to the habitat and the species that inhabit the forest, that, As fragmentation increases, the amount of unaltered central or core habitat " decreases, and ecosystems are increasingly subject to adverse edge effects (see Terrestrial Wildlife section) from human activity, changes in microclimate (Chen and others 1995, Concannon 1995), increase in human caused fires, and invasion of nonnative species (Saunders and others 1991, Skole and Tucer 1993).  Your February 4, 2005 letter states The project area is not known to contain any threatened, endangered or Forest Service sensitive plant or wildlife species that would be impacted by the proposed activities and Heritage resources in the vicinity would be protected from disturbance as well. Please provide the surveys of heritage resources, plant, and wildlife species.  050307-A.EXLINE Logger Point Fuelbreak WUI Project comment Page 7 of 14
We recommend that the Presidential Proclamation 2000 that created the GSNM be strictly adhered to.  NOW, THEREFORE, I, WILLIAM J. CLINTON, President of the United States of America, by the authority vested in me by section 2 of the Act of June 8, 1906 (34 Stat. 225, 16 U.S.C. 431), do proclaim that there are hereby set apart and reserved as the Giant Sequoia National Monument, for the purpose of protecting the objects identified in the above preceding paragraphs, all lands and interests in lands owned or controlled by the United States within the boundaries of the area described on the map entitled "Proposed Giant Sequoia National Monument" attached to and forming a part of this proclamation. All Federal lands and interests in lands within the boundaries of this monument are hereby appropriated and withdrawn from entry, location, selection, sale, leasing, or other disposition under the public land laws including, but not limited to, withdrawal from locating, entry, and patent under the mining laws and from disposition under all laws relating to mineral and geothermal leasing, other than by exchange that furthers the protective purposes of the monument. (Clinton 2000)   We recommend that an EIS be developed to analyze the negative impacts to the the objects identified in the Proclamation. The Monument Management Plan does not currently provide for the protection of the objects defined by the Proclamation such as, " interconnected web of habitats for moisture-loving species" , " interconnected vegetation types" , " habitat for wildlife , ranging from large charismatic animals to less visible and less familiar forms of life, such as fungi and insects" , "200 plant species, and " a number of rare amphibians.  Road and parking lot building could negatively impact all of these objects. Your EIS for this project must address the potential harms to all of the critical objects of importance that are discussed in the Proclamation. The following objects were listed in the Monument Proclamation;  Giant sequoias, a green belt of conifer forests, meadows, domes, spires, gorges, a diverse array of plants and animals, many of which are rare or endemic to the southern Sierra Nevada, limestone caverns, unique paleontological resources, archaeological sites, historic remnants of early Euro-American settlement, sequoias and their surrounding ecosystems 14 , and giant sequoia groves and the surrounding forest. 15  Also listed are shade-tolerant species, woody debris, habitats for an extraordinary diversity of plant species and communities, rare plants, more than 200 plant species endemic to the southern Sierra Nevada mountain range, plant communities ranging from low-elevation oak woodlands and chaparral to high-elevation subalpine forests, meadows, streams, interconnected web of habitats for moisture-loving species, interconnected vegetation types, and habitat for wildlife, ranging from large charismatic animals to less visible and less familiar forms of life, such as fungi and insects, Pacific fisher, great gray owl, American marten, northern goshawk, peregrine falcon, spotted owl, a number of rare amphibians, California condor, hot springs, soda springs, limestone 050307-A.EXLINE Logger Point Fuelbreak WUI Project comment Page 8 of 14
outcrops, remnants of an ancient seabed, are noted for their caves, subfossill vegetation, woodrat middens, vertebrate fossils, paleontological resources found in meadow sediments, archeological sites such as lithic scatters, food-processing sites, rock shelters, village sites, petroglyphs, and pictograph 16 s .  In addition, the project area is sacred territory for Native American tribes that have historically inhabited the area. The Wukchumni people, who we have contacted, have not received notice of the Logger Point Fuelbreak WUI Project or been asked for their comments on the project, which indicates that the Forest Service failed to include in the Native Americans who consider the northern portion of the Monument to be sacred territory. The GSNM Management Plan Record of Decision (ROD) indicates that maintaining a relationship with the Native American community about all projects in the Monument is important for the Forest Service. Please identify which Native American tribes have been contacted about this project.  Historic and Prehistoric Resources By establishing the Hume Lake historic management area and by continuing to implement existing protection measures for historic and prehistoric sites, these resources will be protected from impacts that could destroy them or accelerate their natural rate of deterioration. A variety of historic and prehistoric sites will be managed and interpreted for the education and enjoyment of visitors. Access to culturally important sites and resources for use by Native Americans will also be ensured.(GSNM ROD page 16)  Native American Relations The relationship of the Forest Service with Native Americans is important in the management and restoration of ecosystems in the Monument. In order to meet our responsibilities and to encourage the participation of Native Americans in national forest management, I am making the following commitments on behalf of the Forest Service: During landscape analyses and similar activities, we will assess vegetation community conditions where a specific area has an identified importance to an affected tribe or tribal community. We will consider the relationship between fire management and plants culturally important to Native Americans. Where fuels treatments may affect tribes or tribal communities, or plants culturally important to them, we will consult on the development of burn plans, and consider approaches that accommodate traditional scheduling and techniques of fire and vegetation management. We will consult with appropriate tribes, tribal communities, or tribal organizations to identify areas of new or worsening weed infestations and develop plans for appropriate weed control  . We will maintain appropriate access to sacred and ceremonial sites and to tribal traditional use areas. (GSNM ROD page 36)  We suggest that expanding existing fuelbreak areas could cause negative impacts to the hydrology, fisheries, and objects to be protected in the Monument. Expanding fuelbreaks in the Monument may be in contradiction to the protective purposes of the
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Monument. We recommend that a full EIS be developed to analyze the negative impacts to the the objects identified in the Proclamation.  Your February 4, 2005 letter indicates a concern about not introducing any exotic species of weeds that might be introduced by heavy equipment that would be used to implement the proposed project, when it states Equipment would also be washed prior to moving to the work site, between work sites, and after the work is completed to prevent the spread of noxious weeds  .  Because the project area is in a grazing allotment, we recommend that a full EIS be created to analyze the negative impacts to the objects to be protected in the Monument since the growing body of scientific evidence shows that permitting the exotic species of cows to graze in forested areas is harmful to many species and natural forest conditions. Since the cows are recommended to not be permitted in the National Park, we believe the cows should not be permitted in the Monument.  Your February 4, 2005 letter states It follows a fairly narrow ridge and at its widest is no more than 200 feet wide in mixed conifer stands . The fuelbreak width extends from the relatively flat portion of the ridgetop to between 50 and 100 feet over the side of the ridge. This fuelbreak is important for the protection of Big Stump sequoia grove and adjacent Park Service facilities in the area, and the protection of the Pinehurst community.  The guidelines of the Monument Management Plan are the subject of litigation because neither the 1988 Sequoia National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan as amended by the 2001 Sierra Nevada Forest Plan Amendment nor the 2004 Giant Sequoia National Monument Management Plan provided any scientific evidence to prove that logging to create fuelbreaks, SPLATs, Defense zones, or Threat zones would be more protective than protecting Wildland Urban Interface areas by treating the 200 feet immediately surrounding structures specified by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and the research of Jack Cohen, Research Physical Scientist Forest Service Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT. Therefore, we recommend that a full EIS be created to analyze the negative impacts to the objects to be protected in the Monument.  The Forest Service analyzed, in the GSNM FEIS, an alternative with a 200-foot wide Defense zone (specified by Cohens research) that inappropriately placed the 200 feet of thinning in a rectangle around the community rather than immediately adjacent to structures as specified by Cohens research, which would protect the structure. Forest Service modeling of the 200-foot wide treatment around the communities (not around the structures) indicates that this arbitrary placement of the 200-foot wide defense zone fails to protect structures because there can be spotting in the community.  By starting with a faulty application of the Cohen guidelines, the Forest Service appears to be justified in rejecting the 200 foot Defense zone and accepting a 1.5 mile treatment area around communities, with occasional cleared areas throughout the general forest called SPLATs (Strategically Placed Area Treatments). This misapplication of the
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200 foot Cohen guidelines is fundamentally important to the Forest Service's conclusions regarding the efficacy and need for a 1.5 mile "treatment" area and SPLATS.  Jack Cohen stated in a personal communication dated March 17, 2003,   You are correct in stating that my research indicates that modifying the home ignition zone (the home and its immediate surroundings within 200 ft) can perform the necessary and sufficient changes that effectively reduce home ignitability during extreme wildfire conditions. My research does address firebrands and spot ignitions. Putting a fuel break around communities without modifying the community will not be sufficient to significantly reduce the home ignition potential during extreme conditions. We know that fuel breaks don't stop spotting--that is why I suggest making the community the fuel break. This produces far less landscape disturbance for the purpose of community protection and reduces the community threat from any kind of wildland fire. That should provide increased opportunities for prescribed burning.  (Emphasis added).  By failing to prohibit timber production in the Monument, the Sequoia Monument FEIS makes a final commitment to a course of action that forecloses affirmative measures to protect, preserve, and enhance the Monuments diverse array of scientific and natural resources and their surrounding ecosystems.  By increasing the WUI area, and by allowing larger trees to be cut and reducing the required level of canopy cover, the Sequoia Monument FEIS commits the Forest Service to a course of action that forecloses affirmative measures to protect, preserve, and enhance the Monuments diverse array of scientific and natural resources and their surrounding ecosystems.  The Forest Service's failure to comply with the Proclamation constitutes arbitrary and capricious agency action, is an abuse of discretion, and is contrary to law and to procedures required by law. 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(A), (D).  As stated above, the Forest Service fails to present science to support the contention that fuelbreaks could protect groves or other resources when logging to create fuelbreaks could harm the objects to be protected in the Monument. Logging removes the most fire resistant, least flammable of the forest fuels, the tree trunks. Logging removes the tree canopy, which is what keeps the forest moist and cool.  Removing the canopy causes the sun to shine on the forest floor, causes brush to grow where the trees once stood, and causes the surface winds to increase in the forest, which all increase the fire hazard. The brush fields that would replace these logged trees are more flammable than the trees they replace. Research shows that logging or thinning increases wildfire intensity and severity more than any other human activity.  We recommend that a full EIS be developed to compare the alternative impacts of the appropriate use of the 200-foot protection zone versus logging or thinning SPLATs, fuelbreaks, Defense, and Threat zones farther beyond the 200 feet immediately adjacent to and surrounding structures. Also, the scoping document fails to provide any 050307-A.EXLINE Logger Point Fuelbreak WUI Project comment Page 11 of 14