Medicine Bow Landscape Vegetation Analysis Project

     The Medicine Bow Landscape Vegetation Analysis project, or LaVA, is a large-scale proposal to identify and treat areas in the forest with the intention of restoring forest health. The proposed treatment areas have largely been impacted by the beetle epidemic or are otherwise in an undesirable state. Over the next 10-15 years, the environmental analysis from this decision will be referenced as a baseline for treatment methods to improve vegetation.

     The Mountain Pine Beetle infestation has had widespread and noticeable impact in our forests. As of 2016, of the forested areas on the Snowy and Sierra Madre Ranges, approximately 50% of the trees are dead.  deer in clearing

     Why do we need to act? This project will utilize beetle-killed timber while it is still marketable. Additionally, dead trees increase fuel loading, which increases the potential risk of fire, and puts communities – and lives, at risk. It can also impact the watershed, recreation opportunities, and wildlife habitats.

     The Forest Service has been working alongside multiple federal, state and local cooperating agencies since March of 2017 to develop plans for this project. We’ve worked closely with those agencies to develop the project time frame and purpose, and to identify values at risk which are in need of protection.

     The project will consist of beetle kill areas of the forest in the Sierra Madre and the Snowy Ranges of the Medicine Bow National Forest. Using current laws, regulations and policies, the Forest Service and cooperating agencies have surveyed areas available to be treated, known as Treatment Opportunity Areas. The USFS is currently proposing for 360,000 acres of the forest to be treated – roughly 30% of the forest.

For more information, please visit the LaVA project page 

Key Facts:

  • The project will be in line with the Medicine Bow National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan of 2003
  • Historically, most activities on the MBNF have been planned on a smaller scale, with National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis for individual projects.
  • Proposed action:
    • Stand initiating or even-aged treatment methods (such as clear-cutting) that would not exceed 95,000 acres
    • Uneven-aged or intermediate treatments (e.g., commercial thinning or selective cutting of trees) not to exceed 165,000 acres
    • Other treatments to include prescribed fire, mastication, and hand thinning not to exceed 100,000 acres
  • Total treatment area would not exceed 360,000 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.

Public Handout Fact Sheet (1/30/18)


Mixed Vegetation

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



Cooperating Agencies