Opportunity to comment on Willow Creek Salvage and Fuels Reduction Project | SkyHiNews.com

Opportunity to comment on Willow Creek Salvage and Fuels Reduction Project

The Sulphur Ranger District of the U. S. Forest Service is proposing The Willow Creek Salvage and Fuel Reduction project to address impacts from the mountain pine beetle infestation that includes timber harvest and use of prescribed and natural fire. The project also proposes the removal of hazard trees from alongside open roads and high use recreation areas.

The proposal includes changes to some forest travel routes to reduce negative impacts on wildlife and watersheds where management and recreation needs are being met by other routes. The trees within the project area consist mostly of large size lodgepole pine, with over 90 percent of the mature lodgepole pine trees being killed during the recent mountain pine beetle infestation.

The Willow Creek Salvage and Fuel Reduction project is located on National Forest System (NFS) lands between Willow Creek Pass on the north, Hot Sulphur Springs on the south, the Routt National Forest on the west, and the Gravel Mountain area on the east. The primary access for the project area is State Highway 125 and Forest System Roads (FSR).

Proposed Treatments

Approximately 4,002 acres are identified for commercial salvage harvest or noncommercial fuels reduction treatment. An estimated 30 acres of fuels reduction/defensible space work is proposed within the Troublesome Inventoried Roadless Area for areas that are adjacent to developed private property and recreational residences on the Forest.

The proposal also includes making 42,896 acres of National Forest System lands available for prescribed fire to reduce hazardous fuels and encourage natural regeneration. This includes burning in timber types as well as sagebrush to improve wildlife/range habitat, reduce hazardous fuels, and to accelerate regeneration. These burns would only be implemented when pre-established conditions (e.g., temperature, moisture, wind) meet specifications in an approved prescribed fire plan prepared before burning.

The Forest Service proposes to amend the Forest Plan to allow use of some naturally ignited fires from lightning to reduce hazardous fuels and encourage natural tree regeneration on approximately 68,972 acres in remote areas within the analysis area.

Transportation Proposals

Most proposed timber harvests are accessible by existing roads, however, there are about 700 acres of commercial timber between the Kaufmann Creek Road and State Hwy. 125 that would require an estimated 8 miles of new road construction. These roads would be closed to the public during and immediately after harvest, then parts or all of the road would be obliterated after post sale improvement activities, possibly up to 10 years after harvest. The remainder of the treatment areas would be accessed by existing roads and by constructing approximately 9 miles of temporary roads that would be closed with re-contouring and seeding after harvest.

Other proposed road actions include road decommissioning and converting some roads to trails to mitigate the effects of the transportation system on watershed resources and wildlife habitat. The result would be a decrease in routes open to motorized access from approximately 98 to 85 miles, maintaining adequate recreational access in the area for the public.

One Environmental Assessment, two Decision Notices

Although one EA would be prepared, two decision documents (Decision Notices, or DNs) may be issued. One DN would cover the timber harvests, prescribed fire, and transportation system portion of the decision. A second decision would cover the proposed forest plan amendment to allow use of natural fire in portions of the analysis area. The Fire Use decision is a Forest Supervisor decision. Both DNs would be appealable.

Public Comment Sought

The Sulphur Ranger District would like to hear from the public about these proposals. Public comments help resource specialists identify site-specific concerns and issues that they may need to address in their analysis of the proposal. The District will be taking comments until Dec. 28. The comment period gives those interested in or affected by the proposal an opportunity to make their concerns known prior to a decision being made by the responsible official. Those who provide comments or otherwise express interest in this project in a timely manner will be eligible to appeal the decision pursuant to 36 CFR part 215 regulations.

How to Comment

Written, facsimile, hand-delivered, and electronic comments about the proposed project will be accepted until Dec.28. Written comments must specify which project is being commented upon by project name and be submitted to: Craig A. Magwire, District Ranger, Sulphur Ranger District, P.O. Box 10, Granby, CO 80446. The office business hours for those submitting hand-delivered comments are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. Comments may be sent by e-mail to

comments-rocky-mountain-arapaho-roosevelt-sulphur@fs.fed.us. If you would like more

information, please contact Jim Gerleman at (970) 887- 4131. For more information, visit http://www.fs.fed.us/r2/arnf/conditions/upperfraserclosures/index.shtml. The site is continuously updated to enable the public to stay informed about when and where logging activities are taking place.

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