Chippewa National Forest Seeks Public Comment on West Zone Conifer Thin Project

BLACKDUCK, MINNESOTA - November 26, 2019 -  The Chippewa National Forest is seeking comments on the West Zone Conifer Thin Project.  We are requesting that comments be postmarked or received by January 24, 2020.

Across the west zone of the Chippewa National Forest (Forest) there are many red and white pine and white spruce plantations that are in overstocked conditions.  The project is designed to reduce overall stocking in 20-70 year old dense red and white pine and white spruce plantations to improve forest stand growth and health. The project also incorporates a request made by the Leech Lake Band of the Ojibwe (Band) under the Tribal Forest Protection Act (TFPA) entitled: Tribal Government's Proposal Regarding Red Pine and White Spruce Plantation Restoration. The focus of the TFPA proposal is to thin plantations to increase vegetative species diversity, including a mix of naturally occurring conifer and hardwood species.  The project includes stands and treatments identified in this TFPA request.  The project area boundary generally parallels US Route 2 on the southern edge, with the western and northern borders extending along the Forest boundary.  The eastern edge of the project boundary follows the administrative border between Blackduck and Deer River Ranger Districts.  The project area totals 468,857 acres and includes 209,615 acres within the Leech Lake Band of the Ojibwe Reservation.  Proposed treatment acres total 11,812 with 7,136 acres located within the Band boundary.  The proposed activities include timber harvest using a variety of thinning methods including row thinning, variable density thinning, and the creation of gaps that mimic natural disturbance or historic blowdown patterns.  Multiple entries may occur over 10-15 years.  New temporary roads are not anticipated and previously used temporary roadways may be reopened to access stands but would be closed again after harvest activities end.  A detailed project description is available for review at the Blackduck Ranger District, 417 Forestry Drive, Blackduck, MN 56630; or, on-line at: http://www.fs.fed.us/nepa/nepa_project_exp.php?project=55341

This project is subject to the pre-decisional administrative review (objection) process found in 36 CFR 218, Subparts A and B. Comments are welcome at any time, but only those who submit timely, project-specific, written comments during this public comment period would be eligible to file an objection.

Comments must be postmarked or received by January 24, 2020. Names of commenters will be part of the public record subject to the Freedom of Information Act.  Comments should be within the scope of the proposed action, have a direct relationship to the proposed action, and must include supporting reasons for the Responsible Official to consider (36 CFR 218.2). Other eligibility requirements are defined by 36 CFR 218.25(a)(3) and include name, postal address, title of the project and signature or other verification of identity upon request and the identity of the individual or entity who authored the comments.

Submit written comments to Christopher Worthington, West Zone Planner, 201 Minnesota Avenue East, Walker, MN 56484; facsimile (218) 547-3260; or email: comments-eastern-chippewa@usda.gov (please put "West Zone Conifer Thin Project" in the subject line). Office hours for hand delivery are 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday – Friday (except Federal holidays). Acceptable formats for electronic comments are text or html e-mail, Adobe portable document format, and formats viewable in Microsoft Office applications. It is the responsibility of the sender to ensure timely receipt of any comments submitted.

For questions or additional information regarding this project contact Christopher Worthington at 218-547-5125, email: christopher.worthington@usda.gov.



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