Los Padres Eco Project Comments Extended

Rep. Carbajal Calls for In-Depth Enviro Analysis by Forest Service

Mt. Pinos Ranger District in Los Padres National Forest | Credit: fs.usda.gov/lpnf/

Seventy-one environmental organizations — stretching from Santa Barbara and Ventura to Eugene, Oregon, and Pelham, Massachusetts — along with Congressmember Salud Carbajal advocated that the Forest Service extend the comment period for the Ecological Restoration Project (Eco Project) in Los Padres National Forest. Carbajal’s request tipped the scales, said Andrew Madsen, Forest Service spokesperson, and the comment period now goes through September 27. Project documents and comment information are at tinyurl.com/eco-project.

The project stretches across 235,000 acres of the 2-million-acre forest and includes thousands of acres of environmentally sensitive habitat as well as areas targeted for wilderness preservation. Carbajal cited the diversity in the forest, ranging “from sub-alpine forests to chaparral and from riparian areas to ocean beaches,” and suggested an environmental impact statement (EIS) would provide a “deeper examination related to rare and endemic flora.” Currently, the Forest Service intends to do an environmental assessment, which is less detailed than an impact statement.

Carbajal also wrote that an EIS was necessary if a project would “substantially alter the undeveloped character of an inventoried roadless area or a potential wilderness area.” The Central Coast Heritage Protection Act includes wilderness areas near the project areas. Carbajal’s letter raises the lack of “current surveys related to the biological resources” within the proposed wilderness.

The Forest Service has already been ordered by a federal appeals court to do an EIS in an inventoried roadless area, this one in the Forest Service’s Tecuya Ridge project. Though the quantity of roadless areas in the current project is unclear, according to Los Padres ForestWatch, which has been out front fighting Tecuya Ridge and the Eco Project, 35,000 acres of the new project fall in the proposed wilderness area, and 56,000 acres are deemed sensitive habitat for threatened and endangered species.


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