Forest Service cuts acreage for logging project near Ruedi Reservoir
The Aspen Times
In response to objections filed earlier this year, the U.S. Forest Service is removing nearly 130 acres of aspens from a logging project east of Ruedi Reservoir and will limit the time trucks can use Frying Pan Road through Basalt.
District Ranger Karen Schroyer said Monday in the final decision for the Upper Fryingpan Vegetation Management Project that logging would be allowed on 1,631 acres, down from 1,759 acres previously planned.
She said the decision was based on conversations with Carbondale-based conservation group Wilderness Workshop, and the Forest Service will not allow cutting on three units. In its objection to the plan, Wilderness Workshop previously asked for five aspen stands to be protected.
“It was based on their belief that those units are multi-aged stands and they didn’t need to be cut,” Schroyer said. “We don’t necessarily agree with their assessment of those stands, but we have come to realize we have more work to do together to learn more about aspen stands and aspen-stand management. We have agreed to some additional monitoring criteria for aspen stand units that will be cut.”
Will Roush, conservation director at Wilderness Workshop, said he was disappointed not all of the stands were saved.
“Our biggest concern was that the Forest Service would be paying for stands of healthy, diverse aspen stands to be cut and chipped and then sent to a biomass plant to be burnt,” Roush said in a statement released after the final decision was announced. “In our objection we asked the Forest Service to remove five units of healthy multi-aged aspen and are glad to see that three were removed but disappointed the project will still cut aspen stands that are fulfilling an important ecological role.”
The overall project area is north of Frying Pan Road to the east and northeast of Ruedi Reservoir and to the south and west of the Harry Gates Hut, part of the 10th Mountain Division network of backcountry cabins.
Based on another objection, Schroyer said Monday before they go into an area with karst geology, which includes sinkholes and caves carved from soluble rocks, “an expert in karst geology will come in and look at the unit.” That area is on the east side of the cliffs over Lime Creek Canyon and west of Slim Jim Gulch.
“If we go in and find out we can’t do it effectively, then we’ll look at that unit again,” Schroyer said.
Logging around Seller and Diemer Lakes drew concerns from Basalt town officials over the amount of trucks in the Fryingpan Valley during the work. Schroyer said contractors who cut the units that will need to be trucked out down the valley will be limited to two consecutive seasons for transporting the logs over the five-year contact.
The project is expected to begin in the summer of 2019.
The Forest Service has said in addition to industry, the project will improve habitat for the snowshoe hare, which is a key food for Canadian lynx.
This plan has been in the works for more than two years, Schroyer said Monday, and she is glad that the community input helped lead to adjustments in the project.
“It feels good to be at this place in the project and having a decision out that is a really good balance of the mission of getting forest products to local mills and the balance of the community, recreation and safety,” Schroyer said. “I realize this does not make everyone happy, but I feel it’s a good, solid project that will benefit mills and keep people employed, and help the lnyx and snowshoe hare.”
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