Showing posts from October, 2014

Slash Piles Moved to Wetlands Indicate More Problems to Come

As we reported here, the Forest Service recently moved a number of slash piles created in the course of implementing the first phase of the Upper Echo Lake Hazardous Fuels Reduction Project.  Below is a picture of one of the piles. The dark stained area of granite above the pile indicates seasonal waters flow directly into the area where the pile is now located the pond before moving downstream into the Upper Echo Lake basin. This action by the Forest Service -- in violation of a stipulated order and without consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service -- is harmful to the local ecosystem.  Unfortunately, the Forest Service still intends to implement the second phase of the Project, which may actually increase rather than decrease local fire risk and which is certain to result in further environmental impacts that the agency did not disclose to the public or analyze under the National Environmental Policy Act.

Forest Service Takes Action to Protect Wetlands at Upper Echo Lake, but Ends Up Causing Further Harm and Violating Federal Law

On October 17, 2014, a Forest Service crew entered the Upper Echo Lake Hazardous Fuels Reduction Project site and moved numerous slash piles of tree limbs and brush placed in wetlands approximately one year ago.  Unfortunately, the action was bound to be a failure from its inception for a number of reasons.
First, the agency has initiated consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under section 7(a)(2) of the Endangered Species Act regarding the effects of the Project on the endangered Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog.While consultation is pending, section 7(d) of the ESA prohibits the agency from implementing the Project. Therefore, the October 17, 2014, activities were initiated in violation of federal law.
Second, the agency entered into a court-ordered stipulation whereby it “resolved to take no further on-the-ground activities on the project until consultation is complete and, in any event, no on-the-ground activities in 2014.”  The October 17, 2014, activities were initi…