In response to objections from conservation groups, the U.S. Forest Service is delaying the Saddle Lakes Timber Sale project near Ketchikan in order to conduct a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement.
In a letter to Greenpeace dated March 9th, Regional Forester Beth Pendleton concurs with that group’s complaint that the original EIS hadn’t sufficiently considered the effects of additional logging that likely would take place after a planned transfer of about 8,000 acres of National Forest Service land in that same area to Alaska Mental Health Trust.
The Saddle Lakes Timber Sale calls for logging 47 million board feet on about 2,300 acres, plus road construction to access the harvest area. Greenpeace and other groups noted that the cumulative impact of likely logging on the transferred acreage needed to be considered, in addition to the planned timber harvest area.
While delaying the timber sale, Pendleton writes that the Forest Service will continue with other parts of the overall project, including removal of a fish barrier at Salt Creek, and authorizing a right-of-way to the State of Alaska to build the long-planned Shelter Cove Road.
While they support improving fish habitat, the conservation groups oppose the right-of-way. They say the road will be used to increase logging activities, and will provide easy access for illegal hunting and trapping.
Once built, the approximately six-mile Shelter Cove Road will extend from Revilla Road to Shelter Cove. About one mile of that planned road is on Forest Service land.