Jacob-Ryan project upheld in federal court
Release Date: Jan 23, 2013
Patrick Lair, 928-643-8172
A judge in the United States District Court in Phoenix yesterday ruled in favor of the Jacob-Ryan Vegetation Management Project that was put forth by the Kaibab National Forest.
The U.S. Forest Service won summary judgment in a lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club, which sought to halt the project over concerns for the northern goshawk.
The Town of Fredonia, Ariz., and Kane County, Utah, also intervened on behalf of the U.S. Forest Service.
The Jacob-Ryan project calls for mechanical thinning and prescribed burning treatments on about 25,000 acres of predominantly ponderosa pine forest surrounding Jacob Lake, Ariz.
The Kaibab National Forest maintains the project will improve goshawk habitat by thinning an overstocked forest and restoring fire to a fire-evolved ecosystem.
The northern goshawk is a predatory raptor that is considered a sensitive species by the U.S. Forest Service.
Planners also maintain that thinning and burning treatments will create a more resilient ecosystem, while reducing the threats of large-scale wildfire, insects, and disease.
“Thanks to the hard work and perseverance of our employees, and support from our local communities, we can move forward to help protect the habitat and the forest from high intensity wildfire,” said North Kaibab District Ranger Randall Walker.
First proposed in 1998, the Jacob-Ryan project has been through multiple revisions due to controversy over the size of trees to be thinned. The current project imposes no size restrictions, though planners estimate that less than 2 percent of trees removed could be greater than 16 inches in diameter.
Forest managers plan to begin project implementation this year and expect work to continue for five to seven years.
To learn more about the Jacob-Ryan project, visit the Kaibab National Forest web site at www.fs.usda.gov/kaibab and click on the Jacob-Ryan “Spotlight” at the bottom of the page.