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Report highlights logging threats to old-growth forests on federal lands

A stand of old-growth ponderosa pines in the Deschutes National Forest in Oregon.
A stand of old-growth ponderosa pines in the Deschutes National Forest in Oregon. New report from Climate Forests lists 10 old-growth areas that are under threat from federal logging proposals.

A new report highlights several logging projects in the U.S. that environmental groups say are endangering some of the nation’s oldest forests. Among the threatened areas is a 15,000-acre swath on the Kaibab Plateau near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

The group called Climate Forests, made up of more than a hundred conservation groups, released the study called Worth More Standing. It lists 10 logging proposals in nine states in areas managed by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management that environmentalists say threaten almost a quarter-million acres of old growth and mature trees.

According to the report, old trees store massive amounts of carbon and letting them continue to grow can help curb climate change. They also say the forests provide key wildlife habitat and foster biodiversity. The groups accuse the federal government of mismanagement and are calling on the Biden administration to permanently protect the areas.

The nearly 30,000-acre Burnt Corral Vegetation Management Project is slated for the northern Kaibab National Forest and is listed in the report. Officials say it’s designed to make the area more resilient to wildfire and climate change. But as the report points out, older trees are often the most resistant to fire and the area includes some of the most substantial old growth remaining in the Southwest.

The Forest Service did not comment on the report.

Ryan Heinsius joined the KNAU newsroom as executive producer in 2013 and was named news director and managing editor in 2024. As a reporter, he has covered a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.