Environmentalists in southern Oregon say the Forest Service wants to "kill the patient" in an effort to protect a rare tree species from a fatal root fungus.
The Port Orford cedar, native to the southern Oregon and northern California coast, has succumbed throughout its range to the fungus, which spreads through watercourses or by attaching itself to logging equipment. On the Siskiyou National Forest in Oregon, agency officials hope to save healthy trees inside the Snowcamp Botanical Area by cutting infected trees along an adjacent road.
Local conservationists believe the plan may actually spread the disease by bringing fungus-laden logging trucks into the preserve to haul away infected trees. The plan, they say, is a thin disguise for logging the valuable cedar, which brings high prices in Japan.
"They're not only going to kill the patient, they're going to send it to Japan to get dissected," says Steve Marsden from the anti-logging Siskiyou Project. Although the Clinton Northwest Forest Plan directs the Forest Service to close roads and stop road construction where uninfected stands of the tree remain, the agency says that won't work in this instance. Says agency spokeswoman Sue Olson, "If we did nothing, the likelihood of the disease spreading is much worse."
" Shea Andersen