Kentucky Heartwood has been working for a number of years to document our concerns with the logging project known as “South Red Bird,” which is located in Clay and Leslie Counties within the Daniel Boone National Forest. We have provided the Forest Service with detailed documentation and data related to our concerns with logging in this area, including:
- Landslide risks and endangered fish and mussels: Landslides can wipe out sections of the forest and leave streams filled with sediment, damaging or destroying the habitat of the endangered snuffbox mussel and Kentucky arrow darter (fish)
- Old-growth trees: With a research scientist from Indiana University, we continue to measure the age of trees that are marked for cutting, finding many that are too old to be logged
- Endangered bat species: In 2021, thanks to our generous donors, we were able to hire a bat biologist and set up listening devices throughout the proposed logging area. We found compelling evidence that at least three species of endangered bats were present in this area that the Forest Service did not fully account for in their plans. This means that logging could damage or destroy endangered bat habitat.
Because of the numerous issues associated with this logging project, as well as the unique species that live in the forests of this area, Kentucky Heartwood intends to sue the Forest Service for violations of the Endangered Species Act. In doing so, we hope to stop this logging project.
On April 28, Kentucky Heartwood sent the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) a 60-day notice of intent (NOI) to sue over violations of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the South Red Bird project in the Daniel Boone National Forest. The NOI is part of our ongoing efforts to protect endangered species and old-growth forests in the Redbird District, and a requirement for litigation under the ESA. The NOI focuses on the agencies’ failure to adequately consider impacts to the Kentucky arrow darter, snuffbox mussel, and Indiana, northern long-eared, and gray bats. The NOI can be found at the end of the post.
Despite this evidence, Forest Supervisor Scott Ray said during a meeting over our predecisional objection that he considered landslides to be “a non-issue.” Ray argued that an analysis of landslide impacts to imperiled species was unwarranted, as were any changes or limits to the logging proposal that could limit the risk of landslide occurrence.
Our acoustic surveys also indicated a high probability of Indiana bats in the project area. Further investigation uncovered that the Forest Service may have historical information of a maternity colony in the project area but failed to disclose that information.
Our surveys also indicated gray bat presence at several sites. The Forest Service did not analyze the effects of logging on the gray bat, stating that the project was “outside of the historical range, the species has no documented occurrences, or suitable habitat does not exist.” However, the KY Division of Fish and Wildlife range map for the species includes Clay County, which represents part of the project area.
In addition to the results of our bat surveys and new landslide information, the letter describes our findings of significant old-growth in the project area, with centuries-old forests approved for cutting. Also described in the letter was our documenting of the largest-known Red hickory (Carya ovalis) in existence in a harvest unit.
The Forest Service argued in their analysis of the project that no old-growth existed in the project area, and conservation of old-growth was unneeded. Kentucky Heartwood had a meeting with Redbird District Ranger Bobby Claybrook a month after we sent the letter to discuss our findings and learn the Forest Service’s response. Ranger Claybrook had no comments on any of the information presented in our letter and said that his staff would let him know if they found anything new.
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