White River National Forest seeks comment on aspen management project
The White River National Forest is seeking public comments regarding a proposal designed to improve the health of aspen forests and improve wildlife habitat on area forest lands.
The project would use a combination of timber harvesting and prescribed fires in an effort to maintain and expand aspen stands within the forest surrounding Glenwood Springs and Aspen.
According to a press release, many aspen forests have experienced decline over the past few decades due to drought, insects and disease.
In addition, wildfire suppression efforts have allowed conifers to replace aspen forests in some areas.
“Aspen are important for a number of reasons, including their scenic value, the important wildlife habitat they provide, and their potential to help mitigate large wildfires,” Acting White River National Forest Supervisor Lisa Stoeffler said in the release.
“We have seen a long-term decline in aspen, and these management techniques would proactively promote the health and regeneration of aspen across the White River National Forest.”
The 2.3 million-acre White River National Forest contains nearly 600,000 acres of aspen.
According to the release, about 375,000 of those acres meet the general guidelines for the proposed management plan to be implemented. Within that area, the U.S. Forest Service proposes to use various timber harvesting methods on up to 10,000 acres per decade, plus the use of prescribed fire on an additional 10,000 acres per decade.
The management proposal provides a detailed overview of how specific areas would be selected for treatment, the specific treatment techniques that could be used, and the general areas available for projects.
“This would streamline the analysis needed for site-specific harvest or prescribed fire projects,” the release states.
Designated wilderness areas would be exempt from the management practices, and no temporary road building would occur in Colorado Roadless Areas. However, “prescribed burning with incidental tree cutting to prepare fire lines could occur in roadless areas to improve the health of aspen forests and to improve wildlife habitat.”
The full proposal, including maps and other details, as well as information about how to comment, is available at https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=59419. Comments must be received on or before April 20, 2021.
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