Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests announces the release of the Proposed Land Management Plan

Release Date: Feb 7, 2013  

 

Springerville, AZ—February 6, 2013--The Forest Service announces the release of the Proposed Plan for the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests and accompanying Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for a 90-day public comment period.The documents have been posted on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests’ website.

“The Forest has had the two largest fires in Arizona’s history, which has changed the landscape since the completion of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests’ 1987 plan. Now, the use of smaller diameter material replaces logging of large timber; recreation demand has greatly increased, and community protection from wildfire has come to the forefront. The proposed plan recognizes these changes and will help guide the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests in fulfilling their stewardship responsibilities to best meet the needs of the American people, now, and for future generations,” Forest Supervisor Jim Zornes said.

The plan addresses public, tribal, federal, state, and local government concerns by focusing on the three main revision topics:  1) Maintenance and Improvement of Ecosystem Health, (2) Managed Recreation, and 3) Community-Forest Interaction.

The public is invited to review the documents and to provide comments during the 90-day comment period, which will begin the day the Notice of Availability is published in the Federal Register. The exact deadline will be posted on the Apache-Sitgreaves website once it has been determined. After the comment period ends, the Forest Service will review the comments and revise the plan based on the comments received.

Open houses are scheduled below: 

  • Show Low - Tuesday, February 26, 4-7 p.m. @ Show Low City Hall, Deuce of Clubs Room, 180 N. 9th St.
  • Springerville – Wednesday, February 27, 4-7 p.m. @ Apache-Sitgreaves Forest Supervisor’s Office, 30 S. Chiricahua Drive (behind Subway)
  • Duncan – Thursday, February 28, 4-7 p.m. @ Clifton Ranger District, Conference Room, 397240 AZ 75 (near the Three Way Store)

Plan Revision Open

The proposed plan emphasizes Maintenance and Improvement of Ecosystems by:

  • Restoring and/or maintaining all 14 vegetation types that occur on the Forests, including portions of the largest ponderosa pine forest in North America. Mechanical and burning restoration treatments would result in a reduction of excess tree densities, return of natural fire regimes, well-distributed old growth, aspen regeneration, and restoration of historic grasslands.
  • Restoring priority watersheds and moving riparian areas to proper functioning condition along more than 1,000 miles of rivers and streams that form the headwaters of several major Arizona river systems.
  • Sustaining and/or restoring habitat for fish and wildlife, including 13 federally listed species such as Mexican spotted owl, Apache trout, Mexican gray wolf, and the lesser long-nosed bat.

The proposed plan emphasizes Managed Recreation by:

  • Providing a sustainable and broad array of outdoor recreation opportunities that visitors seek.
  • Managing existing special areas (e.g., national recreation trails, eligible wild and scenic rivers) and recommending 7,100 acres of additions to Escudilla and Bear Wallow Wilderness areas.

The proposed plan emphasizes Community-Forest Interaction by:

  • Reducing excess fuel loads and the risk of uncharacteristic wildfire to nearby communities.
  • Providing an abundant source of wood that can contribute to wood-processing and biomass industries and provide fuelwood for local families and trees to tribes for traditional and cultural purposes.

The DEIS evaluates four alternatives, including the 1987 land management plan (no action alternative) and three alternatives, with varying levels of ecosystem restoration, outdoor recreation opportunities, recommended wilderness, and quantity of available wood products.

The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests encompass more than 2.1 million acres in east-central Arizona. The Forests are located in Apache, Coconino, Greenlee, and Navajo Counties of Arizona and share boundaries with the Coconino, Tonto, and Gila National Forests, Fort Apache and San Carlos Indian Reservations, Bureau of Land Management lands, and State lands.

For additional information, please contact Michelle Davalos, Forest Planner, at 928-333-6334 or email: mdavalos@fs.fed.us.