In 1987, foresters on the Clearwater National Forest in north-central Idaho pledged to set aside 10 percent of the Clearwater's 1.8 million acres in old-growth forest reserves. The agency says it has lived up to that pledge, reserving almost 200,000 acres.
Environmentalists in Idaho who
have studied the agency's data say the numbers don't add
"Their data doesn't support their own
conclusions," says Amy Haak, a graphic information systems analyst
working for the Idaho Conservation League. In some cases, the
agency counted acres of seedlings or even bare ground as old-growth
forest, she says.
In one case, there is "an area
they are calling old growth and there are no trees on it," says
Haak. "It seems to me the presence of trees would be a fundamental
criteria for old growth."
National Forest stands by its numbers, which it handed over to a
federal court earlier this year as part of an ongoing lawsuit filed
by the Idaho Conservation League over forest
"We're still well over the 10 percent
minimum," says Doug Gochnour of the Clearwater National Forest. "We
believe the consultant (the Idaho Conservation League) hired to do
this work made some fundamental mistakes," he says. Gochnour won't
say what mistakes were made.
Clearwater forest is still cutting its big trees: the controversial
Fish Bate timber sale near Orofino, Idaho, would log 888 acres of