Just looking at it from a different and very general perspective, the net effects of clearcutting and a severe wildfire are not all that different. And a fire would kill far more than 21 acres of trees. Most here are already aware of fire being a natural part of the pines, and are not terribly upset an the environmental consequences. Such major impacts on habitats, natural or human-caused, have positive effects on some species and negative ones on others. The long-standing preoccupation with preserving every mature forest stand is one based on aesthetics rather than science. The impacts that initially present the worst aesthetics often result in the most species diversity. I'm looking out my window as I type this at a sparsely forested grassland, teeming with songbirds, where a forest of impressive trees was laid waste by a tornado a year and a half ago. I viewed that destruction as a gift. I'm not saying there shouldn't be rules and required adherence to them, but the resulting public outcry is usually the same regardless.
And I want to reiterate that these comments are generally speaking and not defending this particular project. But this type of clearing for habitat management would be attacked by the majority no matter where it occurred.