AFRC General Counsel Sara Ghafouri had the following to say regarding the Ninth Circuit’s decision today on the Cuddy Valley Forest Health/Fuels Reduction and Tecuya Ridge Shaded Fuel Break Projects on the Los Padres National Forest:
“We are pleased with aspects of the Ninth Circuit’s ruling that support reducing wildfire risks and protecting nearby communities, including the U.S. Forest Service’s use of the timber stand improvement ‘categorical exclusion.’ In addition to upholding an important forest management tool for our public lands managers, this favorable ruling will enable the Cuddy Valley Project to proceed.
“The Tecuya Ridge Project authorizes thinning activities to create a much-needed shaded fuelbreak that will help increase the forest’s resilience to insect and disease infestations and protect the nearby communities in the Wildland Urban Interface. We would like to see this project move forward given that this fuelbreak seeks to protect almost 3,800 homes and was prioritized and ranked second out of the 35 fuelbreaks evaluated during the Los Padres National Forest’s strategic review.
“While we’re disappointed by one aspect of the ruling that will delay this important work, we will continue to support and defend the Tecuya Ridge Project and the Los Padres National Forest’s efforts to mitigate wildfire risks to Frazier Park and other communities.”