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PRESS RELEASE: New report spotlights Vermont timber sale among 10 worst logging projects in US

Vermont’s Green Mountain National Forest is included in national list of

10 Climate-Saving Forests On the Chopping Block

For Immediate Release: July 12, 2022


Contact

Zack Porter, Standing Trees, (617) 872-5352, zporter@standingtrees.org Randi Spivak, Center for Biological Diversity, (310) 779-4894, rspivak@biologicaldiversity.org Becca Bowe, Earthjustice, rbowe@earthjustice.org Jackson Chiappinelli, Earthjustice, jchiappinelli@earthjustice.org Ellen Montgomery, Environment America, emontgomery@environmentamerica.org Medhini Kumar, Sierra Club, medhini.kumar@sierraclub.org


MONTPELIER, VT and WASHINGTON, DC – Federal agencies are targeting mature and old-growth forests for logging despite these trees’ extraordinary ability to curb climate change and President Biden’s directive to preserve them, according to a new report spotlighting the 10 worst logging projects in federal forests across the country. Included on the new list is the proposed Telephone Gap Integrated Resource Project on Vermont’s Green Mountain National Forest.


In the report released today, Worth More Standing, the Climate Forests coalition details federal logging proposals targeting nearly a quarter of a million acres of old-growth and mature forests overseen by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. The report outlines “a pervasive pattern of federal forest mismanagement that routinely sidesteps science to turn carbon-storing giants into lumber” and calls on the Biden administration to pass a permanent rule to protect these big old trees.


“The best way to protect these carbon-storing giants is to let them grow, but our federal agencies keep turning them into lumber,” said Randi Spivak, public lands director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Biden administration can help curb climate change by permanently protecting mature and old growth trees. It takes centuries to make up for the carbon lost when these trees are chopped down and we don’t have that kind of time.”


The threatened forests are in North Carolina, Vermont, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Arizona, California, and Oregon. In Vermont’s Green Mountain National Forest, the Telephone Gap Integrated Resource Project proposes up to 10,900-acres of logging in mature and old forests along the spine of the Green Mountains. More than half of targeted trees in the project area are over a century old, with many in excess of 150 years, making this among the oldest forested regions of Vermont.


"Although old-growth forests were nearly eliminated from New England, significant amounts of mature and old forest between 80 and 200 years of age persist on the Green and White Mountain National Forests,” commented Zack Porter, Executive Director of Standing Trees, and organization working to protect forests on public lands. “The Forest Service should be protecting future old growth for future generations. Tragically, these recovering forests are increasingly in the agency’s logging crosshairs."


Mature and old-growth forests hold enormous amounts of carbon. Preserving old-growth and mature forests is a meaningful, cost-effective measure the Biden administration can take immediately to mitigate climate change. Biden issued an Earth Day executive order directing an inventory of old forests and policies to protect them.


“Without a federal rule in place to restrict logging of these critical forest tracts, these mature and old-growth trees could be lost, along with the opportunity to make significant progress toward addressing climate change,” said Blaine Miller-McFeeley, Senior Legislative Representative at Earthjustice.


Also today, more than 100 groups sent a letter to the U.S. Agriculture and Interior departments requesting an immediate start to a rulemaking process to ensure permanent protections for mature and old-growth trees and forests across federal lands, while allowing for necessary measures to reduce wildfire risk. Large, older trees are more resistant to wildfires and studies show logging them doesn’t reduce the risk of climate change-driven fires.


“This report highlights what we have -- but also what we stand to lose,” said Alex Craven, senior campaign representative at the Sierra Club. “Our old and mature growths are a natural climate solution, and we must protect these trees if we wish to tackle the intersecting climate and biodiversity crises.”


Scientists have pointed to forest preservation as one of the most effective ways to remove carbon from the atmosphere. U.S. federal forests sequester 35 million metric tons of carbon annually, a number that could rise steadily with new conservation measures.


Protecting older forests also safeguards clean water, clean air, wildlife habitat, biodiversity and recreation opportunities.


The full report is available here: https://www.climate-forests.org/worth-more-standing.


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Center for Biological Diversity, Earthjustice, Environment America, Natural Resources Defense Council, Oregon Wild, Standing Trees, and Sierra Club are steering committee members of the Climate Forest Campaign, a coalition of more than 100 organizations working to protect mature and old-growth trees and forests from logging across America's public lands as a cornerstone of U.S. climate policy.



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