KETCHIKAN (AP) -- The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council and The Wilderness Society have appealed the U.S. Forest Service' proposed Emerald Bay timber sale on the northwest side of Cleveland Peninsula.
''It will build roads opposed by biologists and the state of Alaska, chop up old growth reserves, and illegally target the most valuable trees to be exported in the round,'' said Buck Lindekugel, SEACC's staff attorney, in a statement. ''On top of that, the U.S. Forest Service hasn't been honest with the public about the real motivation for the sale.''
The conservation groups contend the agency told the public it planned the timber sale to test helicopter logging costs. However, they cite a memo Feb. 17 from Ingersoll to another Forest Service employee that said the Emerald Bay sale was planned as a somewhat experimental project in anticipation of the larger Port Stewart project. According to the memo, the situation changed when Emerald Bay became the only part of the Cleveland Peninsula eligible for logging.
The memo also said that during scoping, the agency gave the impression that no roads would be involved.
Jerry Ingersoll, Forest Service district ranger for Ketchikan, denied Tuesday that the agency had been dishonest.
Ingersoll told the Ketchikan Daily News he recalled writing the memo and described it as an internal document in which he provided the history of the proposed sale.
The intent on Emerald Bay from day one, he said, was to explore a way to demonstrate good ways of logging without incurring the kinds of impacts that people feared. Helicopter logging methods were proposed and stressed on the project.
As the agency went through an analysis, it determined that helicopter logging was not feasible. There always was an alternative that included a road but the agency had not talked about it much. The agency came back to talk with the public more fully about it and extended the public comment time, he said.
Tongass National Forest Supervisor Tom Puchlerz approved the Emerald Bay sale on Oct. 1 for offer in 2003.
The state formally protested the sale under provisions of the Coastal Zone Management Act based on concerns that logging roads would affect fish and wildlife there, said Puchlerz. In response, the agency designed the sale so that fewer than four miles of primitive road will be built to the sale area.
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