Medicine Bow Landscape Vegetation Analysis

View LaVA StoryMap

View Project Implementation Checklists


February 1, 2021 – During the fall of 2020 the Mullen Fire impacted the Medicine Bow National Forest, burning portions of six of the 14 accounting units that make up the LaVA project area. LaVA implementation is on hold in the six affected accounting units while Forest staff develop a supplemental information report assessing post-fire conditions in these areas. Additional information about the supplemental information report will be shared as it becomes available. LaVA implementation may proceed in accounting units that were not affected by the Mullen Fire in the Sierra Madre Mountain Range and the Northern Snowy Mountain Range (click here for details). Additional LaVA checklists for treatments in the unaffected accounting units will be released over the next few months. The LaVA StoryMap is being updated to reflect changes in the implementation schedule due to the Mullen Fire. Launch of the updated StoryMap is planned for early spring of 2021.

  • The LaVA StoryMap is an interactive GIS map where users can:
    • Learn more about the LaVA decision.
    • Utilize interactive maps of the Sierra Madre and Snowy Ranges in combination with LaVA project analysis data.
    • View past/current/future treatment locations and information.
    • Provide feedback on future treatments and focus areas.
    • Learn about cooperating agencies.

About LaVA

   The Medicine Bow Landscape Vegetation Analysis Project, or LaVA, was developed to respond to unprecedented landscape-level tree mortality from bark beetles and other forest health issues that have affected hundreds of thousands of acres across the Medicine Bow National Forest since the late 1990s.

     The LaVA Project allows for up to 288,000 acres of vegetation management on the Medicine Bow National Forest over the next 15 years. The treatment areas consist of beetle kill areas of the forest in the Sierra Madre and the Snowy Ranges that have been greatly impacted by the beetle epidemic or are otherwise in an undesirable state. LaVA will utilize beetle-killed timber while it is still marketable and decrease the health and safety risks borne by those in the community. By removing dead trees, the project will decrease fuel loading, potentially reducing wildfire severity and lessening the potential impacts on watersheds, recreation opportunities, wildlife habitats, and human lives.  deer in clearing

     Though most activities on the MBNF have been planned on a smaller scale, with National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis for individual projects, the LaVA project is a bit different. LaVA utilizes the Healthy Forests Restoration Act, which provides expedited administrative review of projects and expedited procedures for complying with NEPA requirements while still involving stakeholders, feedback, and partners.

     The Forest Service has been working alongside multiple federal, state and local cooperating agencies since March of 2017 to develop the project time frame and purpose, and to identify values at risk in need of protection. In the final decision, Treatment Opportunity Areas (TOAs) were identified with wildlife, recreation, scenic, resilience and production, and other emphases. By working with cooperating agencies, we have developed a plan that mitigates risk to habitats, activities, and spaces that are beloved by the community and reduces the potential hazards that pose risks to users of the forest. LaVA is in line with the Medicine Bow National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan of 2003.

For more information, please visit the LaVA project page 

Per Aug. 13, 2020, Final Record of Decision:

  • Stand initiating or even-aged treatment methods (such as clear-cutting) that would not exceed 86,119 acres.

  • Uneven-aged or intermediate treatments (e.g., commercial thinning or selective cutting of trees) not to exceed 149,550 acres.

  • Other treatments to include prescribed fire, mastication, and hand thinning not to exceed 52,331 acres.

  • ​​Total treatment area will not exceed 288,000 acres.

  • No more than 600 miles total of temporary roads may be established to treat areas during the project, with a limitation of no more than 75 miles open at any given time.


Mixed Vegetation

Pictured: Mixed vegetation and conditions in the Medicine Bow National Forest and bordering lands.


Cooperating Agencies

Project Archive Links