Environmentalists Try to Block Fire Prevention in Yosemite

President Barack Obama speaks in front of Cook's Meadow and Yosemite Falls on June 18, 2016 in Yosemite National Park, California. Obama is marking the centennial of the National Park Service which began on August 25, 1916. (Photo by)
David Calvert/Getty Images

Environmentalists are trying to block the U.S. National Park Service from removing dead and excess trees from Yosemite National Park for fire prevention, saying the effort harms conservation and violates existing federal environmental law.

The Los Angeles Times reported last week:

A U.S. district judge on Tuesday was expected to hear a request by the nonprofit Earth Island Institute for a preliminary injunction to halt the National Park Service’s ongoing “biomass removal project” across nearly 2,000 acres within the park. In a lawsuit that was filed a day earlier, environmentalists argued that the work violates federal environmental requirements.

The project authorizes crews to remove thousands of standing dead trees and healthy ponderosa pines, white firs and incense cedars to reduce the fire risk to Yosemite Valley, the Merced and Tuolumne groves of giant sequoias, habitat for rare species including Pacific fishers and great gray owls, and communities including El Portal, Foresta and Yosemite Village.

But it has triggered a fight with the Earth Island Institute, which filed the lawsuit Monday against Yosemite National Park, Supt. Cicely Muldoon, the National Park Service and the Interior Department seeking to stop the project until it completes an environmental analysis and public review process required under the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA.

The fight continues as drought-stricken California enters what could be a potential devastating wider season, one of several in recent years. Environmentalists have resisted logging in national forests that once helped remove fuel and suppress fires.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) promised to clear excess fuel and dead trees from the state’s forests. But as Breitbart News noted in April, citing Capital Public Radio, his administration had failed to complete a “single project” in the forests.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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