A plan the Forest Service is touting as “a measurable, science-based assessment” of logging’s impact on California spotted owls and other forest species is raising hackles in California. The proposal, released in December, calls for cutting up to 600 million board-feet of timber — enough to build 60,000 houses — and bulldozing 160 miles of roads on 183,000 acres of the Plumas and Lassen national forests.

The goal is to find a way to implement the 1999 Quincy Library Group Forest Recovery Act, which calls for cutting trees to reduce fire risk in spotted owl territories, while staying within the parameters of the 2001 Sierra Nevada Framework, which protects wildlife and limits logging throughout the Sierra Nevada range (HCN, 8/27/01: Restoring the Range of Light). The new proposal is designed to “assure ourselves the activities called for by the Quincy plan will not put species at risk,” says agency spokesman Rick Alexander.

But members of the Quincy Library Group — a coalition of environmental and timber industry representatives that hashed out the sweeping plan behind the Forest Recovery Act — are among the new proposal’s most outspoken critics. The group’s original demonstration project called for logging over a billion board-feet in five years, but it involved no new roads and protected 500,000 acres of roadless and environmentally sensitive areas.

The group has threatened to sue the Forest Service over what co-founder Michael Jackson calls “a false demonstration” of the Quincy Library forest thinning plan.