10 Most Threatened Wild Places Report Released
February 5, 2004
Contact: Keith Hammond, California Wilderness Coalition, 530-758-0380
REPORT: CALIFORNIA'S 10 MOST THREATENED WILD PLACES OF 2004
Increasing Federal Rollbacks Threaten State's Wildlife and Wilderness with
Logging, Drilling, Off-Road Abuse, and Loss of Endangered Species
The impact of federal policy rollbacks on California's
wild lands accelerated greatly in 2003, according to the California
Wilderness Coalition's third annual listing of the state's "10 Most Threatened
Wild Places," putting many wilderness lands in jeopardy of damage
or permanent loss.
"Just last month the Bush Administration nearly tripled commercial
logging on our national forests in the entire Sierra Nevada with the stroke
of a pen," said Mary Wells, executive director of the California Wilderness
Coalition. "On top of that they are trying to log illegally in California's
roadless forests, drill for oil in endangered California condor habitat,
and log in the Giant Sequoia National Monument."
California's 10 Most Threatened Wild Places for 2004 are:
- Sierra Nevada Forests - Bush Administration revoked Forest Service's
Sierra Framework; substitute plan allows widespread logging throughout
the Sierra, even old-growth areas. Private company's plan to clearcut
its own 1 million acres is further degrading water and habitat for rare
- Los Padres
National Forest - Proposed oil and gas development puts wild forest
lands and endangered species habitat at risk, notably the California
Sand Dunes - Bush Administration's extreme off-road plan would overturn
protection of endangered wildlife and wilderness.
- White Mountains (Furnace
Creek) - California's largest unprotected wilderness is being invaded
by illegal off-road vehicle trails damaging a rare desert stream.
National Forest - Proposed freeways, dams, and power lines threaten
region's last unprotected wild forests.
- Tejon Ranch - Sprawl and industrial development
threaten irreplaceable wildlife habitat on California's largest private
- Giant Sequoia National Monument - Forest Service's plan would
continue intensive logging in a protected monument, even cutting
- Golden Trout Wilderness Addition - Salvage logging in
a roadless forest would damage proposed wilderness that's home to
California's imperiled state fish.
- Medicine Lake Highlands - Development of geothermal
power plants would lay waste to wild forests and sacred lands.
River Basin - Excessive water diversion is killing salmon and hurting
farmers, fishermen, tribes, and endangered wildlife.
The report is available
online at: http://www.calwild.org/resources/pubs/10most04.php
Recent federal policies that specifically target California's wild places
- revoking the Forest Service's "Sierra Framework"; substitute
plan nearly triples commercial logging in 11 National Forests of the
Sierra Nevada, even in old-growth forests.
- dismantling Northwest Forest Plan protections
for California's ancient forests and salmon.
- planning to drill for oil
in endangered California condor habitat in the Los Padres National
to log Giant Sequoia National Monument in violation of the 2000 monument
- overruling its own federal scientists and cutting Klamath
River flows, killing 34,000 salmon.
- approving industrial power plants
on three Northern California National Forests, denied by the previous
- re-opening California Desert endangered species habitat
previously closed to damaging off-road vehicles.
- fast-tracking a new freeway
proposed through Southern California's Cleveland National Forest.
to log roadless areas of the Tahoe and Sequoia National Forests in
violation of the Forest Service's Roadless Area Conservation Rule.
Four of the ten threatened wildlands are in Southern California, where
the Bush Administration has promoted a freeway through the Cleveland National
Forest, proposed reopening endangered species habitat to extreme off-road
vehicle use in the Algodones Dunes, and proposed oil drilling in endangered
California condor habitat in the Los Padres National Forest. In addition,
the owners of Tejon Ranch, California's largest single private landholding,
have begun to break up the vast ranch with industrial and residential development,
threatening key habitat and migration corridors for wildlife belonging
to all Californians.
Four of the ten threatened wildlands are officially designated roadless
areas in California's National Forests slated for logging, oil and gas
drilling, geothermal development, and road-building -- projects which are
prohibited by the Forest Service's own Roadless Area Conservation Rule. The
Bush Administration has never implemented the Roadless Rule, and in 2003
announced a plan to overturn it.
On a brighter note, several areas from the 10 Most Threatened 2003 list
survived major threats of logging or mining:
- Duncan Canyon: Saved? The Forest Service began illegal salvage logging,
but a federal court blocked them before they could log the proposed
wilderness. Final outcome is unclear.
- Panamint Range: Still in trouble. Mining company shelved its plan for
an open pit cyanide gold mine. But the Bureau of Land Management is
considering reopening the oasis Surprise Canyon to extreme off-road vehicles.
- Plumas and Lassen National Forests: Still in trouble. The Forest Service
withdrew its widely criticized plan to deliberately log spotted owl
nesting groves. But these forests will bear the brunt of increased
logging under the Bush Administration's revisions to the Sierra Framework.