Skip links

Concern over massive North Yuba logging project in the Tahoe National Forest

Story by Steve Evans | Wild Rivers Director

The Forest Service has largely rejected the objections of CalWild and Sierra Forest Legacy to the massive logging and thinning project within the Tahoe National Forest called the North Yuba Landscape Resilience Project.

Logging and thinning on 4,270 acres of public land

The project proposes varying intensities of forest logging and thinning on 275,000 acres of public land in the North Yuba River watershed along Highway 49 in the Sierra Nevada. The stated goals of the project include; improving forest health and resilience, reducing the risk of high severity wildfire, and protecting water supplies, and local communities. While we support these goals, CalWild objected to the project because it proposed logging in 4,270 acres of the East Yuba Inventoried Roadless Area, and extensive thinning along State Scenic Highway 49 and the North Yuba River. These impacts will likely degrade the outstanding scenery of this Forest Service-recommended Wild and Scenic River.

The Forest Service proposes to extensively thin forests along Scenic Highway 49 and the agency-recommended North Yuba Wild and Scenic River corridor.

The proposed thinning in the East Yuba roadless area will also likely impact the recreation experience along the popular 2nd Divide Trail, much of which parallels Pauley Creek and is heavily used by mountain bikers, hikers, and anglers. Our recommendation to remove fewer trees in the roadless area, by limiting the size of trees removed to 16 inches in diameter, was rejected. The Project decision also amends current provisions in the Sierra Forest Plan Amendment that protects large trees and habitat crucial for the California spotted owl and other old forest-dependent wildlife species.

More than just the Tahoe National Forest under threat

The approval of the North Yuba project is particularly troubling because it is only one of several projects throughout the state under consideration by the Forest Service that could allow logging and thinning. Not only in roadless areas and along Wild and Scenic River corridors, but also in existing protected Wilderness. Just to the north of the North Yuba project, the Plumas Forest is considering the Central-West Slope Project, which includes possible thinning and logging in 4,566 acres of the existing Bucks Lake Wilderness, 4,522 acres of the upper segment of the Middle Fork Feather Wild and Scenic River (California’s first federally protected river), and 7,013 acres of eligible Wild and Scenic Rivers identified by the Forest Service in 1994.

CalWild supports the need to treat fuels, reintroduce managed fire, and protect local communities. However, the current rush by the Forest Service to log and thin in sensitive areas needs to be reevaluated. There needs to be at least a commitment by the agency to address the concerns of conservation groups.