Massive forest treatment plan proposed

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Massive forest treatment plan proposed

Public presentations scheduled in Montrose, Ouray and Grand Junction

The proposed action (above) would treat up to 120,000 acres in the GMUG National Forest. The colored areas on the map are being considered for treatment. (Click for larger image.)

The proposed action (above) would treat up to 120,000 acres in the GMUG National Forest. The colored areas on the map are being considered for treatment. (Click for larger image.)

The Forest Service has released its long-awaited draft plan to manage spruce beetle and aspen decline impacts on up to 120,000 acres across our region.

If the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forest is your backyard, you need to be aware of this massive and potentially precedent-setting project.

To help you understand the implications of the plan, WCC is partnering with the Public Lands Partnership and others to host these public presentations in affected counties:

  • Montrose – Thurs, June 18th @ 6:30 pm in Friendship Meeting Room, Montrose County Fairground, 1001 N. 2nd St.
  • Ouray – Mon, June 29th @ 7 pm in the San Juan Room, Ouray Community Center, 320 6th Ave.
  • Grand Junction – Mon, June 29th @ 6 pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 536 Ouray Ave.

In addition, the Forest Service will conduct an all-day field trip to the Grand Mesa on Wednesday, June 24, to explain the project’s interdisciplinary approach to treatment using spruce-fir as an example. The group will leave from Delta at 9 am, returning at 4pm. Folks coming from Mesa County can meet the bus at the Grand Mesa Visitor Center at 10 am.

To attend any of these events, please RSVP to emily(at)wccongress.org.

Background

The GMUG National Forest is proposing to treat up to 120,000 acres over a 10-year period. Each year up to 6,000 acres would be logged for commercial timber, and another 6,000 acres would be treated non-commercially through the use of prescribed fire and other techniques.

The Forest released its draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the Spruce Beetle Epidemic and Aspen Decline Management Response (SBEADMR) project, as it’s known, in late May. The public comment period will close on July 31. (For more info, go to the SBEADMR project website.)

WCC has a good working relationship with the Forest Service, and we are not opposed to cutting trees as long as the project undergoes a robust public dialogue and scientific process. However, we do have specific concerns about this project, including:

  • Size and scale. 120,000 acres is a lot of land.
  • Public process. Although the Forest Service has laid out a plan for public involvement throughout the life of the project through an “adaptive management” framework, there will only be one formal Environmental Impact Statement prepared for the whole project.
  • Scientific basis. The science behind forest health and tree regeneration in the face of epidemics and climate change is still being developed. SBEADMR needs to incorporate the best and most up-to-date information.
  • Priorities. The project should focus on protecting public health and safety first. With its limited dollars, the Forest Service needs to prioritize treating areas that pose a fire and safety threat to Western Slope communities.

For a more detailed description of our concerns and a comment guide, click here! And submit your comments to the Forest Service by July 31st either via the web or by sending a hard copy to: Attn: SBEADMR Project c/o Scott Armentrout, 2250 Highway 50 Delta, CO 81416.

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