An unearthed federal report reveals that Kaibab Forest Products Co. deliberately stole more than 1,200 trees from the Kaibab National Forest north of the Grand Canyon. According to the 1992 report, made public after a Freedom of Information Act request by Robin Silver of the Southwest Center for Biological Diversity, a cozy relationship existed between the timber company and Forest Service. Agency employees accepted discounted lumber and Christmas turkeys from Kaibab employees, said the Inspector General for the Agriculture Department. Loggers also disturbed a clearly marked archaeology site, damaged a raptor habitat enclosure and failed to complete road improvements which the Forest Service paid them to make. Although the timber firm agreed to pay a $300,000 fine in December 1994 for timber stolen between 1987 and 1990, the company called its unauthorized logging an accident. Director Kieran Suckling of the Southwest Center for Biological Diversity believes Kaibab got off far too easily. He wants the company to pay $6 million for the stolen trees and wants federal prosecution of negligent Forest Service employees. Says Suckling: "There is no way in the world that over many years (Forest Service) timber sale administrators could not have noticed those trees were being cut."


*Diane Kelly