Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Washington and conservationists agree to settle group's challenge of Wildcat Thin Timber Sale

LOS ANGELES , February 2, 2012 () –

Washington's Gifford Pinchot National Forest and conservation group the Gifford Pinchot (GP) Task Force said Wednesday they have agreed to settle a dispute over a thinning project in a replanted area of the state's Muddy River and Pine Creek drainage areas, The Daily News reported Feb. 1.

The negotiated concessions will allow the 2,800-acre Wildcat Thin Timber Sale to go to bid this year.

In 2010, the GP Task Force challenged the sale and claimed it could damage habitat for the endangered bull trout. Over the next few years, other groups plan to reintroduce steelhead and salmon to streams in the area, reported The Daily News.

The Forest Service agreed to reduce the thinning area for the forest-health project by 3%, a total of 86 acres. It had been clearcut in the 1960s and 1970s, then replanted, The Daily News reported.

The settlement reduces stream crossings to be built to five from 13, said national forest permit manager Ruth Tracy.

Up to 11 miles of road would have been built under the original plan, but instead the project will improve old routes and those will not be maintained for public use, said Tracy, The Daily News reported.

National Forest officials and the GP Task Force also agreed that two stream crossings will be improved after completion of the forest thinning, The Daily News reported.

The forest in southwest Washington encompasses 1.3 million acres, according to its official website.

The primary source of this article is The Daily News, Longview, Washington, on Feb. 1, 2012.

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