America’s Vanishing Climate Forests:

How the U.S. Is Risking Global Credibility on Forest Conservation

US-101, Klamath, CA 95548, USA, United States
Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash

At last year’s COP26 in Scotland, the United States and more than 140 other countries made an ambitious commitment to reverse global deforestation by 2030 to help combat climate change. President Joe Biden declared that the United States would “lead by our example at home” to conserve and restore forest carbon sinks.

At this year’s COP27 global climate summit in Egypt, Biden takes the world stage as U.S. forest-management agencies are failing to live up to his promise. They’re logging carbon-rich, mature and old-growth trees and forests on federally owned lands, undercutting U.S. credibility as a climate leader.

This report highlights 12 examples of government-run logging projects that include cutting down mature and old-growth forests and trees on federal lands, eliminating vast amounts of naturally stored carbon and ongoing sequestration, and degrading biodiversity reservoirs as the climate and wildlife extinction crises worsen.

On Biden’s watch, federal agencies plan to allow timber companies to cut down huge swaths of mature spruce in South Dakota’s Black Hills, clearcut mature forests along the Appalachian Trail in West Virginia and Kentucky, and wipe out large tree habitat for endangered wildlife in Oregon, Idaho and Montana.

This report lists twelve wilderness areas across the Unites States that are subject to being extensively logged destroying the forest ecosystems that are critically needed for our climate emergency. Only one is listed located in California. For a complete report, go to: 11_12_22_Americas_Vanishing_Climate_Forests_.pdf – Google Drive

Logging unit 53 of South Fork Project,

Why this forest is special

The Salmon River watershed is one of the most intact, remote landscapes in the Klamath- Siskiyou ecoregion and harbors one of the most spectacular Wild and Scenic rivers in the country. It also contains important anadromous fish habitat, as well as the only remaining spring Chinook runs and the last completely wild salmon and steelhead runs in the Klamath River watershed. South Fork Project

The project proposes logging 2,455 acres, including mature and old-growth trees. It’s directly upstream from the Klamath National Forest’s Bear Country Project, which also targets old forest with industrial logging. The cumulative harm to the ecosystem from these projects would be severe. The South Fork Project area is extremely remote, highly biodiverse, and functions as an important wildlife connectivity corridor for old forest-dependent animals living between the Trinity Alps and Russian wilderness areas.

Carbon storage and biodiversity

The South Fork Project area encompasses large portions of the Carter Meadows Late- Successional Reserve. This is a vital wildlife corridor for imperiled Pacific martens and Pacific fishers, threatened northern spotted owls and pileated woodpeckers, who all depend on mature and old-growth forests for nesting, roosting and denning. Logging and road construction would increase sedimentation and damage fisheries in the Wild and Scenic South Fork Salmon River, critical for the near-extinct spring Chinook salmon and five other runs of wild salmon. Loggers would build 67 timber landings — cleared areas where logged trees are piled — and an expansive network of skid roads to move the trees, harming streams, fisheries, and the Carter Meadows and Eddy Gulch Late Successional Reserves, areas set aside to protect mature and old-growth trees. The project targets old forests, not plantation stands, disproportionately harming carbon storage and future carbon sequestration. Why these trees should remain standing. 

The intensity and location of the proposed logging conflicts with the Forest Service’s claim that the project will promote forest health and habitat diversity and reduce wildfire risk. In many cases the project would have the opposite effect, degrading or removing the very forest conditions the Forest Service claims it wants to protect. These older forests, including large snags, downed wood and living trees, will take centuries to recover. Removing large trees and reducing overstory canopy opens the forest to more sunlight, hot, dry winds and higher temperatures, which can encourage growth of flammable shrubs and increase wildfire risk.8 The future of mature and old-growth trees in Klamath National Forest. 

Agency timber planners have proposed three major sales in some of the last occupied northern spotted owl habitat in the Klamath Mountains. If the South Fork and Bear Country timber sales move forward, low-elevation mature and old-growth forest outside protected wilderness areas would be logged. Project status.

The Forest Service initiated scoping in 2020, but the project has recently been put on hold.

 Local contact: Luke Ruediger, Klamath Forest Alliance,

This report was prepared for the Climate Forests coalition, which works to protect mature and old-growth trees and forests from logging across America’s public lands. Contributing organizations to the report include Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Cascadia Wildlands, Center for Biological Diversity, Environment America, Earthjustice, Friends of the Bitterroot, Friends of the Clearwater, Klamath Forest Alliance, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, Kentucky Heartwood, Oregon Wild, Natural Resources Defense Council, Norbeck Society, Sierra Club, Speak for the Trees, Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, Southern Environmental Law Center, Standing Trees, The Larch Company, Wild Heritage.