Along with multiple cooperating agencies, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) has developed a landscape-scale proposal for future tree thinning, harvest, and hazard removal, as well as prescribed burning in the Sierra Madre and Snowy Ranges of the Medicine Bow National Forest (MBNF). The proposed action seeks to accelerate the pace and scale of active forest restoration using a wide range of tools.
A public comment period is underway for the initial Landscape Vegetation Analysis project proposal. Open houses in both Laramie and Saratoga, Wyo., are planned during the comment period, which concludes Aug. 21, 2017.
The open houses will feature an overview presentation about the project, and USFS staff will be available both before and after the presentation to discuss details and answer questions.
Both events will be from 5-8 p.m., with the presentation at 6 p.m. The Laramie open house will be Tues., Aug. 8, at the Lincoln Community Center, 365 West Grand Ave., while the Saratoga open house will be Thurs., Aug. 10, at the Platte Valley Community Center, 210 Elm St.
Across the MBNF, over 350,000 acres have been identified in the proposed action as potentially treatable over the next 10-15 years. Some temporary and permanent road construction would be necessary to reach areas where vegetation could be treated by machinery, prescribed fire, or hand tools.
The Landscape Vegetation Analysis project is intended to authorize flexible management of forest vegetation in an effort to utilize beetle-killed timber while it is still marketable and to reduce the risk of wildfire near communities. Additional benefits for wildlife habitat, municipal water supply, road maintenance, recreation opportunities, and public safety will result from the project due to a more mosaic, diverse, and resilient landscape.
Most activities on the MBNF have historically been planned on a smaller scale, with National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis for individual projects. This large-scale analysis will provide the environmental foundation for several projects in one decision.
Comments will be the primary basis for modifying the proposal or developing alternatives as the project moves forward. Specific comments that describe support or concerns with specific elements of the process used to develop this proposal, issues that should be addressed by the project or in the analysis, and solutions to perceived issues, are most useful at this stage of the project.
This will be the first of two opportunities to give input on the project. The public will also have an opportunity to comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, expected in December 2017. Those who provide timely and specific comments during either comment period may also be eligible to file an objection to the Final Environmental Impact Statement and Draft Record of Decision, expected in May 2018.
Comments can be submitted by mail, fax, over the phone, in person, or by email.
- Written comments should be submitted to the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests, Attn: Melissa Martin, 2468 Jackson St, Laramie, WY 82070, or fax: 307-745-2398.
- Oral and hand-delivered comments should be submitted to 2468 Jackson Street during normal business hours (8:00 am to 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday, excluding holidays).
- Telephone comments can be submitted to Melissa Martin at 307-745-2371.
- Email comments may be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org in portable document format (.pdf) or Word (.docx) format.
- Comments may be submitted via an electronic form located at https://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public/CommentInput?Project=51255.
- The proposed action document, maps, and other project information are available on the Forest web site at www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=51255.
For more information please contact Planning and Information Program Manager Melissa Martin at (307) 745-2371 or Environmental Coordinator Paula Guenther at (307) 326-2507.