Forest Service cancels Baylor Park timber sale
Special to The Aspen Times
The U.S. Forest Service canceled a second timber sale in the Baylor Park blowdown after three environmental groups filed suit.
The Aspen Wilderness Workshop, Colorado Wild and the Center for Native Ecosystems filed suit against the Forest Service on Feb. 27 in U.S. District Court in Denver to stop the Baylor Park Salvage No. 2 timber sale.
The sale called for logging dead and live trees on 1,311 acres of the White River National Forest about six miles southwest of Sunlight Mountain Resort.
Bids to cut the timber by commercial logging companies were due to be opened Tuesday at the supervisor’s office of the Medicine Bow and Routt national forests in Laramie, Wyo. Most of the timber is expected to go to a mill in Saratoga, Wyo.
The Forest Service said the logging is needed to prevent the spread of spruce bark beetles. It would yield 11.3 million board feet of wood.
But the Forest Service published a notice Wednesday saying that the call for bids was canceled.
White River National Forest spokesman Vinnie Picard confirmed that the cancellation was due to the litigation brought by the three environmental groups.
Picard explained the Baylor Park blowdown is divided into two timber sales. A commercial logger, Brad Hassig of Yampa, contracted for 274-acre Baylor Park No. 1 last summer.
An environmental analysis is slated for a third timber cut in Baylor Park this summer, Picard said. But that cut will not be offered for sale until the litigation is settled.
In their suit, the three environmental groups said the Forest Service planned to cut large old-growth trees as well as beetle-infested trees.
Baylor Park was hit by a strong wind in August 1999 that blew down thousands of acres of trees. Native spruce bark beetles have since infested the downed spruce and fir trees.
Since then, the Forest Service determined that the best way to prevent the spread of the beetles and destruction of even more trees was to cut the timber, both living and dead, in the blowdown area.
Beetles infest downed trees and, once their numbers have increased, will spread to living trees.
The three environmental groups also contend that the area is suitable habitat for three endangered species – lynx, boreal owl and pine marten – and that logging would disrupt and damage their habitat.
The groups have said they are not opposed to a smaller timber cut.
“We’re hoping they’ll agree to a settlement,” Picard said.
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