Los Padres extends public scoping period on Reyes Peak Forest Health Project

Contact(s): Andrew Madsen (805) 895-0841


Los Padres National Forest officials today announced that the scoping period for the Reyes Peak Forest Health and Fuels Reduction Project on the Ojai and Mt. Pinos Ranger Districts has been extended to allow for additional comments from members of the public interested in collaborating with the Forest on this project.

Project managers will continue to accept comments from the public until August 14, 2020. Previously submitted comments will not need to be resubmitted.

A scoping letter was sent to interested parties May 28 following initial consultation including with tribal representatives. A virtual public meeting was held June 11 that provided an opportunity for interested groups and individuals to learn more about the project and ask questions. Based on the overwhelming response from those who were able to attend as well as requests for future public meetings, project managers will convene two additional meetings during the extended scoping period.

The dates for these meetings will be announced after they’ve been scheduled.  

The purpose of the Reyes Peak Forest Health and Fuels Reduction Project is to improve wildlife habitat and forest health by thinning surface and ladder fuels, to reduce potential fire intensities and create landscapes more resilient to the impacts of drought, insects and disease, and wildfire in an area at risk for substantial tree mortality.

The preliminary analysis indicates that the proposed project may not require documentation in an Environmental Assessment (EA) or an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under the Healthy Forest Restoration Act of 2003, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and subsequent laws passed by Congress. Certain timber stand and/or wildlife habitat improvement activities may be categorically excluded from the need for an EA or EIS as outlined under NEPA Handbook direction, specifically Chapter 30, Categorical Exclusions. The project is still being analyzed and public input and collaboration will help determine if there are any extraordinary circumstances which would warrant further analysis under an EA or EIS.

Under the proposal, trees less than 24 inches in diameter may be thinned and removed to improve the health of the stand and to reduce the fire hazard. The trees will need to be removed to reduce fire fuels on the forest floor. The Forest may be able to sell some of this material to help offset operational costs that would allow for treatment of additional acres to create more conditions that are resilient to stressors such as drought, insect and disease infestation, and wildfire.

More than half the conifer stands are healthy and will be enhanced by reducing the ladder fuels and the introduction of prescribed fire. Other areas will be lightly thinned or require only understory treatments as part of the project’s goal to retain those healthy trees between 2 and 5 feet in diameter. Due to the stands being overstocked, some trees are dying. Thinning the understory will help protect these trees so they can remain on the landscape for future generations to enjoy.

The public is encouraged to visit the project area as previously planned site visits with project managers are not possible at this time. To read the project proposal and supporting documents, and to submit a comment, please visit the project webpage (https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=58012).

 

# # #

 

The mission of the U.S. Forest Service, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation's clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live.





https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/lpnf/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD757454