Public Invited to Provide Input on the Taneum Forest Restoration Project; Improving Forest Resiliency and Aquatic Health

Release Date: Jul 3, 2018  

Cle Elum, WA  — Many people recall the impacts from the Jolly Mountain Fire in 2017. Smoky air conditions, road and area closures, stressful emergency evacuations and the uncertainty…all of which heavily affected local residents and visitors to the national forest last August and September.

In an ongoing effort to improve the forest health and to reduce future impacts from wildfire to the community the Cle Elum Ranger District is seeking input on restoration proposals aimed at improving forest and aquatic resiliency within the 21,700 acre Taneum Forest Restoration project located 10 miles south of Cle Elum, WA within the North and South Forks and main stem of the Taneum Creek drainage.

“We are currently in the initial planning stages and have formulated an initial proposal that is ready for public review. We’re asking for public comment on the proposal to help us identify concerns or ideas within the scope of the project for the environmental analysis.” said Cle Elum District Ranger Michelle Capp.

The proposed project seeks to integrate aquatic and terrestrial restoration actions, with human uses and values in the project area and across the watershed. The primary purpose(s) of this project are to:

  • Reduce the risk of fish and wildlife habitat loss to uncharacteristically  severe wildfire by making habitat more resilient.
  • Restore watershed functions, restore native plant diversity, and build more resilient and sustainable ecosystems.
  • Improve riparian, stream, and upland processes that influence stream and watershed functions and substantially contribute to the recovery of steelhead trout and bull trout and their critical habitats.
  • Provide a transportation system that is affordable, safe, and efficient for administration, public use, and protection of National Forest System lands while also providing high quality recreation experiences and access for forest management.

Some of the types of land management activities that are proposed to improve floodplain and aquatic conditions include: rehabilitating closed roads and areas where dispersed campsites exist along the creek; trail bridge installations and other trail condition improvements; culvert replacement or removals, and adjustments to campsites to improve the floodplain conditions, in addition to address some of the road and trail access issues that fall within the scope of this project.

Vegetation treatment activities may include: mechanical thinning, pile burning and prescribed under burning; and restoration of native plants in meadows.

“We’ve been working with our Tapash Collaborative partners for a number of years on a variety of landscape restoration efforts, across multiple ownerships to improve forest and aquatic resilience of this cherished landscape,” added Capp. 

The Taneum Project is the Forest Service’s contribution towards restoring the national forest system lands in this watershed and just one of many projects being worked on collaboratively across all boundaries in this landscape. Several partners doing work on the lands they manage in this area include: Washington State Departments of Natural Resources and Fish and Wildlife, Yakama Nation and The Nature Conservancy- all of whom have strong interest in improving forest health in the watershed. The Washington Resources Conservation and Development Council and Kittitas County Fire Adapted Community group have also been closely involved and supportive of the work on this project.

“We are in the very earliest phases of seeking public suggestions to improve the draft proposal. Several opportunities will be offered this summer to learn more about the project. Forest Service staff, along with our Tapash Collaborative partners, are planning to host guided field trips this summer out to the project area so people can learn more about the needs of the landscape and proposed restoration treatments,” said Capp. “We’re also piloting a human ecology mapping survey to learn about recreation use, visitation trends and cultural ties to the landscape that will help us improve the way we manage for those resources as well. More information will be available soon about the survey,” Capp added.

Comments for this initial 30-day scoping process must be received or postmarked no later than July 27, 2018. As the project progresses the Forest Service anticipates having the draft Environmental Analysis (EA) available for public review with a 30-day comment period later this fall. A draft decision notice and objection period would follow this winter. 

To learn more about the project, subscribe to receive project updates, or submit comments go to:  www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=53450 or contact project lead Rachel Wirt, 509-852-1043.

Taneum Ridge

View of Taneum Ridge in the middle ground and the head of South Fork Taneum Creek in the background. Photo taken from Taneum Point.
Photo Credit: Matt Dahlgreen


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