A Kaibab National Forest ranger has urged U.S. Forest Service officials to reduce by nearly two-thirds the amount of timber offered for harvest north of the Grand Canyon.
Regis Cassidy of the North Kaibab Ranger District prepared an internal memo for agency authorities in August and suggested reducing the amount of timber offered to loggers in his district to 21 million board feet - from the current 61 million board feet - by the 1994 fiscal year.The Forest Service currently offers 74 million board feet per year from the northern and southern sections of the forest, with the bulk coming from the North Kaibab.
However, Cassidy pulled up short of telling reporters the agency had authorized too much cutting.
"I can't say that our original figures were wrong," he said last week after the Wilderness Society, an evironmental group, released his memorandum.
He added that the Forest Service is reanalyzing its timber-cutting policies. Increasingly vocal opposition to logging has led the agency to reduce timber offerings by about 15 percent in the state's three major ponderosa-pine forests - the Kaibab, Coconino and Apache-Sitgreaves.
John Wright, state director for the Wilderness Society, said Cassidy's report confirms the worst fears of environmentalists about the condition of the state's forests.
"You just have to shake your head about what's happening to the timber resource, the wildlife, recreation and everything else," Wright said.
Meanwhile, Duane Shroufe, state director of the Game and Fish Department, released a prepared statement calling for an unspecified reduction in timber-cutting.
Game and fish officials have opposed wholesale logging in the North Kaibab because of habitat reduction and the stress it brings to bear on wild turkeys, Kaibab squirrels and the goshawk, a Grand Canyon raptor state biologists have proposed for inclusion on the threatened-species list.
Studies indicate a drop in the population of goshawk breeding pairs from 130 in 1972 to 60 in 1988.
Shroufe's statement said his agency could not say what an appropriate level of timber harvesting would be.
Cassidy wrote that even a reduction to 21 million board feet would leave his employees feeling they were "at the wall" by 1994.
"What we were faced with was entering sale areas every two, three years, cutting smaller units each time and fewer units," he wrote.
Forest Service plans have concluded that sale areas be entered only once every 20 years.