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Forest Service seeks comments on White River National Forest Health and Fuels Management Project

Dec. 18, 2018

Forest Service seeks comments on White River National Forest Health and Fuels Management Project

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. – The White River National Forest is seeking public comments on a proposal to implement a forest-wide vegetation management project located in Eagle, Garfield, Mesa, Pitkin, Rio Blanco, and Summit counties. The goal of the project is to maintain existing critical fuel breaks and treatment areas adjacent to communities and improve forest health in areas affected by the mountain pine beetle by removing small-diameter vegetation. A maximum of 1,000 acres of vegetation management activities would be conducted on National Forest System Lands annually through the following activities:

  • Continued management of live and dead fuels within previously created fuel breaks in the Wildland Urban Interface (the area where the edge of developed communities meet forest land),
  • Improving individual tree growth, and improving forest health through reducing tree density in naturally regenerating stands of young lodgepole pine,
  • Reducing the extent of insects or diseases present in lodgepole pine stands,
  • Continued enhancement of tree species diversity through maintaining and protecting young Engelmann spruce trees planted in areas affected by past spruce beetle outbreaks.

“In response to the mountain pine beetle epidemic, the White River National Forest has worked aggressively to reduce fuel concentrations in critical areas adjacent to communities and to promote the regeneration of lodgepole pine.” stated Scott Fitzwilliams, Forest Supervisor. “However, we now have previously-treated areas across the Forest that have regrown and are overly-dense and need maintenance to continue to be effective in the event of future wildfires.”

During the last fifteen years, the mountain pine beetle epidemic impacted lodgepole pine populations across the Forest, leaving large swaths of widespread, dead-standing trees. In response, the Forest implemented, and will continue to implement, targeted fuels reduction projects in these areas to create fuel breaks between communities and Forest land to protect infrastructure and provide for fire fighter safety in the event of a future wildfire. Overtime, these completed fuel breaks have regenerated and are now dense with vegetation. Continued maintenance/thinning of past treatment areas would reduce tree density, increase water and nutrient availability, remove dwarf mistletoe, and increase tree vigor.

How to Comment:

The Forest is now soliciting comments on the proposed action. Your feedback on this proposal will assist in refining design features and identifying potential issues. Comments specific to the proposed action that identify a cause-effect relationship are most helpful. 

Electronic comments including attachments can be submitted to: https://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public//CommentInput?Project=55257

Hardcopy comments can be mailed, hand-delivered as follows:

 

Mail                                                                                  Hand Deliver

White River National Forest                                        White River National Forest Offices located in

Attn: Shelby Limberis                                                    Glenwood Springs, Carbondale, Rifle, Meeker,

P.O. Box 190                                                                   Minturn, and Silverthorne.

Minturn, CO 81645                                                       

Comments will be accepted any time, but will be most helpful if submitted prior to January 31, 2019. Names and contact information submitted with comments will become part of the public record and may be released under the Freedom of Information Act.  It is anticipated that this project will use a Categorical Exclusion (CE).  A CE is a category of actions established by either the Secretary (of Agriculture), the Chief, or by statute, and is excluded from documentation in an Environmental Assessment (EA) or Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).  This project may fall within under 36 CFR 220.6 (e)(6) - Timber stand and/or wildlife habitat improvement activities that do not include the use of herbicides or do not require more than 1 mile of low standard road construction.

Additional information regarding this action can be obtained from: Shelby Limberis, P.O. Box 190, Minturn, CO, 81645; by phone: (970) 827-5161; or by email:  slimberis@fs.fed.us.

 





https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/whiteriver/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD606458