Showing posts from February, 2014

Forest Service "Hazardous Fuels Reduction" Activities Extend to North and South Shores of Upper Echo Lake

The U.S. Forest Service's Upper Echo Lake Hazardous Fuels Reduction Project commenced on September 30, 2013, while the agency was still in the midst of negotiations with the Echo Lakes Association and individual homeowners regarding proposed tree and brush removal on parcels surround the Lake.
The picture above shows slash piles on the north shore of Upper Echo Lake.  The Forest Service is actively removing trees and brush in low density, low risk-risk circumstances. The picture above shows Forest Service contractors and indiscriminate brush and tree removal on the south shore of Upper Echo Lake.

Forest Service Activity at Upper Echo Lake Threatens Water Quality

The Upper Echo Lake Hazardous Fuels Reduction Project being implemented by the Forest Service threatens to degrade water quality in both Upper and Lower Echo Lakes.  The Project includes placement of large amounts of biomass adjacent to the lakes.  In the photo below, piles have been placed in the foreground.
This material, which the Forest Service plans to burn in place, could soon end up in the lakes with devastating consequences.

Lahonton Regional Water Quality Control Board Accepting Comments on Draft Timber Waiver until February 24, 2014

The California Regional Water Quality Control Board, Lahontan Region has issued a notice inviting comments on a Tentative 2014 Timber Waiver.  According to the notice, "[t]he 2014 Timber Waiver will continue to waive waste discharge requirements for timber harvest and vegetation management activities that meet specified eligibility criteria and follow specified conditions."  The Upper Echo Lake Hazardous Fuels Reduction Project is being implemented under the existing Timber Waiver.  Both the existing and proposed waivers allow projects to proceed that have water quality impacts without securing federal and state water quality permits.

Murphy Files Amended Complaint Challenging Fuels Reduction Project

On February 6, 2014, Dennis Murphy filed an amended complaint challenging the U.S. Forest Service's Upper Echo Lake Hazardous Fuels Reduction Project.  The amended complaint includes additional claims that the Forest Service is violating the Endangered Species Act and National Environmental Policy Act in proceeding with the Project.  The Project area is proposed for designation as critical habitat for the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog.  Additionally, much of the activity underway or planned could have substantial water quality implications as it is adjacent to Upper and Lower Echo Lakes.

Fish and Wildlife Service Reopens Comment Period on Sierra Nevada Yellow-Legged Frog

On January 10, 2014, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a notice that it was reopening the comment period on the proposed rule to list the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog and proposed rule to designate critical habitat for the species.  The notice is available here.  In its prior proposed rule to designate critical habitat, available here, the Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to designate Upper and Lower Echo Lakes and the surrounding area as critical habitat for the species.

The proposed rule designates 447,341 hectares as critical habitat, including 413,702 hectares of federal land. Itincludes three units encompassing 24 subunits. Subunit 2E consists of approximately 33,666 hectares. According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, "[t]his subunit is considered to be within the geographical area occupied by the species at the time of listing, and it contains the physical or biological features essential to the conservation of the species, is currently functional habitat…