FREDONIA, Ariz. - A judge in the United States District Court in Phoenix Jan. 24 ruled in favor of the Jacob-Ryan Vegetation Management Project proposed by the Kaibab National Forest.
The U.S. Forest Service won summary judgment in a lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club. The groups sought to halt the project over concerns for the northern goshawk.
The Town of Fredonia, Ariz., and Kane County, Utah, also intervened on behalf of the U.S. Forest Service.
The Jacob-Ryan project calls for mechanical thinning and prescribed burning treatments on about 25,000 acres of predominantly ponderosa pine forest surrounding Jacob Lake, Ariz.
The Kaibab National Forest maintains the project will improve goshawk habitat by thinning an overstocked forest and restoring fire to a fire-evolved ecosystem.
The U.S. Forest Service considers the northern goshawk, a predatory raptor, a sensitive species.
Planners also maintain that thinning and burning treatments will create a more resilient ecosystem, while reducing the threats of large-scale wildfire, insects and disease.
"Thanks to the hard work and perseverance of our employees, and support from our local communities, we can move forward to help protect the habitat and the forest from high intensity wildfire," said North Kaibab District Ranger Randall Walker.
First proposed in 1998, the Forest Service has revised the Jacob-Ryan multiple times because of controversy over the size of trees to be thinned. The current project imposes no size restrictions, though planners estimate that less than 2 percent of trees removed could be greater than 16 inches in diameter.
Forest managers plan to begin project implementation this year and expect work to continue for five to seven years.
More information about the Jacob-Ryan project is available at www.fs.usda.gov/kaibab.
More information is also available from Public Affairs Specialist Patrick Lair at (928) 643-8172 or firstname.lastname@example.org.