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Woodpecker could alter Calif. logging laws

Sacramento -- California's logging policy may hang on the fate of the black-backed woodpecker if environmental advocates have their way, a petition says.

The Center for Biological Diversity and the John Muir Project of the Earth Island Institute recently filed a petition to protect the woodpecker under the state Endangered Species Act, the Sacramento (Calif.) Bee reported.

They say salvage logging, the practice of harvesting burned trees, threatens the bird's survival because it depends on a habitat of burned forests. The woodpecker prefers to nest in burned trees, and feeds on insects that attack trees after a fire. It also is part of a whole ecosystem that is essential to the life cycle of California forests.

That cycle was interrupted by a century of misguided fire suppression, and now by salvage logging, said Chad Hanson of the John Muir Project.

California currently allows salvage logging under streamlined regulations so property owners can harvest the wood before it rots.

Bob Mion of the California Forestry Association responded that protecting burned trees would be a hardship on property owners who need salvage logging to recover some of the value lost in a forest fire and that leaving dead trees also may increase future fire risk.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).

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