On July 22nd, Mount Shasta Ecology submitted lengthy comments on an Environmental Assessment (EA) for a 5000+ acre project proposed by the Modoc National Forest for the Medicine Lake Caldera, which is in the heart of the Native American Traditional Cultural District in the Medicine Lake Highlands, a landscape that we’ve been working for twenty years to protect from large-scale industrial energy development and hydraulic fracturing.

While we share concerns about mountain pine beetle infestations and the need to prevent wildfires, we have asked the Forest Service to provide an alternative project that would better respect cultural, natural and scenic values.

As often happens with “vegetation treatment projects,” this one includes a large timber sale, way more than is needed to address the problem. Negative effects of the project as it now stands include landscape fragmentation from excessive logging that would include 1 to 5 acre clearcuts, unacceptable damage to cultural and scenic values, impacts on soils and riparian reserves from industrial logging using heavy machinery, and harm to wildlife from reduced habitat and forage.

We have asked the Forest Service to modify the project to ensure that enough big trees are retained to maintain the forests’ ecological and cultural qualities, eliminate large clearcuts, maintain adequate canopy and soil integrity, minimize new road construction, and to use alternative methods that have proven effective in controlling the mountain pine beetle without cutting large healthy trees. Many more details are provided in our comments, which can be found below.

Our early involvement in the planning process for projects such as this has proven effective in obtaining modifications that benefit the forest. This is especially important for the Medicine Lake Caldera and its exceptional natural, cultural, hydrologic, geologic, and scenic values.

— Michelle Berditschevsky
Founder, Senior Conservation Consultant