Cedar Ridge Forest Land sale

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Cedar Ridge Forest Land sale

Postby Mario » Mon May 01, 2006 7:45 pm

Anyone have information on the Forest sale in CCR??

Here is an article from the Union Democrat.

Land sale controversy continues

Published: April 28, 2006

To comment on the U.S. Forest Service's proposed land sale, e-mail SRS_Land_Sales@fs.fed.us or fax comments to (202) 205-1604.


The 4,000-plus acres within the Stanislaus National Forest that are proposed for sale by the U.S. Forest Service are scattered, a forest map shows.

But when environmentalists examine that same map closer, they see that at least two-thirds of the forest land on the chopping block is surrounded by or adjacent to property owned by logging-giant Sierra Pacific Industries.

Monday is the deadline for people to let the Forest Service know what they think of its controversial plan to sell more than 300,000 acres of public forest land nationally to help pay for rural schools and roads.

The land sales, part of President Bush's proposed 2007 budget, would generate $800 million over the next five years to backfill budget cuts.

Once public comments are evaluated, the Forest Service will submit the proposal to Congress by the end of June.

Environmental groups in the foothills, such as the Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center in Twain Harte, have already submitted formal comments.

On the Stanislaus forest, 4,063 acres — 3,285 in Calaveras County and 778 in Tuolumne County — are proposed to be sold. This includes land in the West Point and Wilseyville areas of Calaveras County, and the Yankee Hill and Cedar Ridge areas of Tuolumne County.

There are also parcels a mile north of the Pine Mountain Lake subdivision in the Groveland area.

Bruce Castle, president of Ebbetts Pass Forest Watch, said the Arnold-based environmental group opposes the sale of these local pieces of public land, especially those that SPI could buy.

Ebbetts Pass Forest Watch has long-opposed SPI's clear-cutting practices.

"What we are concerned about is that the sale of this land would be attractive to Sierra Pacific Industries," he said.

Lawmakers from both parties dislike the proposal, and several have questioned whether extending the comment period from late March to early May would change anyone's opinion.

Critics say the permanent loss of public lands isn't worth the short-term gain to schools and roads.

"Selling off public lands is selling off a legacy that should be passed on to future generations," said CSERC Executive Director John Buckley, who has personally visited many of the Stanislaus parcels.

The proposal, he said, is a "poor idea at a bad time" and is a reflection of the Bush administration's attempt to please special-interest groups — in this case, the logging industry.

The timber industry gave more than $4 million, or 80 percent of its political donations, to the Republican party during the 2004 election.

While SPI was not among the industry's top 20 contributors that year, the Redding-based company did give $28,450 in donations during the 2002 election. Sixty percent of that amount went to the Democratic party and 40 percent to Republicans.

In the northwest portion of the Stanislaus National Forest, there are a number of parcels not surrounded by SPI land, said Jayne Montoya, a realty specialist with the forest.

"We'll see how it plays out. SPI may want some of them," she said of the parcels.

SPI spokesman Ed Bond said the forest's land sale is not a high priority for the company, especially considering that the sale is currently just a proposal.

He did say, however, that the company would "take a harder look" at parcels surrounded by SPI land.

"Where there are parcels that might fit into our present holdings, we might entertain the idea of buying those," he said.

Bond said the real solution to funding schools and roads is not selling off land, but rather allowing more timber sales as money from those sales go toward county schools and roads.

Montoya acknowledged the proposed land sales are controversial.

"Some people are afraid it will set a precedent for the future," she said.

If the proposal is approved and the land is sold, additional land-locked parcels would be created.

Montoya said the Forest Service doesn't have easy access to the isolated parcels, making them difficult to manage.

If that's the case, then the forest could give the parcels bordering Bureau of Land Management property to that federal agency, Buckley said.

Montoya said the sale's purpose is to generate money, not to give or trade land.

Once the Forest Service reaches its $800 million goal, the sales would stop, Montoya said, adding that she's not sure what forests would begin selling land first.

Stanislaus National Forest spokesman Jerry Snyder said the least contested, yet most valuable, properties would be sold first.

Each parcel would be individually appraised to determine its fair market value, Montoya said.

Some parcels have a greater amount of timber than others, which make them more valuable, she said.

"Some of these properties may very well be suited for development," she said.

Snyder said several people interested in buying land, including private citizens and real estate agents, have called him asking for information about the proposed sale.

After public comments are evaluated, some parcels may be dropped from the proposal, forest officials said.

Three parcels totaling 450 acres along the Mokelumne River on the Calaveras Ranger District were dropped in February from the original proposed land sale.

An additional three parcels in Tuolumne County were dropped from the first draft — before the list went public.

One of those was the base for the Stanislaus Hot Shots, an elite Forest Service firefighting unit, on Forest Road in Sonora. A computer had identified the two-plus acres there as an isolated parcel.

Additionally, two parcels on the Groveland Ranger District — one totaling 82 acres and the other at 242 acres — were removed from the list because of cultural and historical importance.
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