Planning advances on 33,000-acre forest health project outside of Glenwood Springs
ANOTHER PROJECT PLANNED
While the White River National Forest has reached a draft decision on one major forest health project, it’s still working on the proposal for a second.
The agency has proposed vegetation treatments on Basalt Mountain to salvage fire-killed timber, remove hazard trees and create defensible space near cabins in Cattle Creek drainage. In addition, 6,500 acres of land will be monitored for reforestation needs.
The agency hoped to reach a decision on the project in February and implement it in July, but it is behind that deadline. Once a draft decision is issued, there will be a 45-day objection period before the project can be implemented.
The U.S. Forest Service issued a draft decision Thursday for several forest health and fuel treatment projects on 33,000-acre southwest of Glenwood Springs and west of Carbondale.
The agency released a Final Environmental Assessment and Draft Decision Notice/Finding of No Significant Impact for the County Line Project. That targets action in the Fourmile Creek, Camp Creek-East Divide Creek, Thompson Creek and Edgerton Creek-Crystal River watersheds.
Prescribed fire and mechanical treatments are part of the proposal. The work will improve forest health and tree stand diversity to reduce susceptibility to large-scale wildfire, provide commercial forest products to local industries and benefit wildlife habitat and recreation, according to the Forest Service.
“Through this project we can achieve a healthier stand that will retain forest cover over the long-term while providing additional benefits to recreation and forest access,” Karen Schroyer, Aspen-Sopris District Ranger, said in a prepared statement.
The County Line Project includes these components:
• Glading on about 47 acres of national forest within the Sunlight Ski Area Special Use Permit boundary.
• Forest health assessment and treatment on 2,390 acres of national forest within the Sunlight permit boundary.
• Prescribed fire on 13,661 acres of national forest for fuels management and wildlife habitat improvements.
• Logging on 1,597 acres for forest health and vegetation management.
• Winter recreation improvements along Forest Road 300 including a parking area for winter, non-motorized recreation use and construction of a snowmobile route.
• Move the existing gate located at the kiosk on Forest Road 300 to a location further south along the road to improve access for Christmas tree collection.
The release of the draft decision triggers a 45-day objection period. Individuals and parties that submitted timely and specific written statements during the 30-day combined scoping and comment period that started in September 2018 have standing to file an objection to the draft decision notice.
Project documents are available for download on the White River National Forest website at https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=52653. Hardcopies may be reviewed at the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District in Carbondale, CO.
Objections, including attachments, must be filed via mail, fax, email, hand-delivery, express delivery or messenger service (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., excluding holidays) to: Reviewing Officer, Brian Ferebee, Regional Forester, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region, 1617 Cole Blvd, Building 17, Lakewood, CO 80401; FAX: (303) 275-5134, or email email@example.com.
Objections must be submitted within 45 calendar days following the publication of a legal notice in the Aspen Times Weekly. The legal notice is anticipated to be published June 20, 2019. The publication date in the Aspen Times Weekly (newspaper of record) is the exclusive means for calculating the time to file an objection.
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Former Carbondale trustee Katrina Byars said she wants to bring a voice of environmental sustainability to the commission, and believes her opponent has served long enough.