The Methow Valley Ranger District is considering a wide range of changes to how 77,038 acres of forest west of Twisp are managed — everything from taking steps to preserve whatever lynx habitat is left, to allowing e-bikes or wheeled all-terrain vehicles (WATVs) on forest roads.
Most of the land in what the U.S. Forest Service is calling the Twisp Restoration Project area is also being considered for thinning and prescribed burning, both to reduce wildfire risk and to improve the diversity of species in the forest.
The project area includes the Twisp River, Alder Creek, Rader Creek and Wolf Creek drainages. The Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness is excluded.
Forest Service officials will host an open house on the Twisp Restoration Project, starting at 5 p.m. Thursday (Nov. 21) at the Methow Valley Community Center.
In addition to proposed benefits for lynx, officials hope to improve habitats for beaver, the endangered spring chinook, and the threatened summer steelhead and bull trout.
About 55,000 acres — more than 70% of the project area — may be thinned to improve conditions for the largest trees, address insect or disease outbreaks, and reduce ladder fuels. About 63,000 acres, or 82% of the project area, is being considered for prescribed burning.
Also under the proposal, forest stands could be altered to reduce fire intensity near populated areas and provide easier access for firefighters.
The location of roads, and how they are used, also will be under review. The plan notes that “existing opportunities for motorized recreation are limited,” and a mixed-use analysis may be completed that would consider allowing e-bikes and WATVs on forest roads, according to Eireann Pederson, project team leader for the Forest Service.
“We’re seeking input from the public to see if any WATV or e-bike routes on existing Forest Service routes make sense from a resource and public need, and the mixed-use analysis could be done if those opportunities are present,” Pederson said in an email. She noted that she was quoting a statement from Chris Furr, the Methow Valley District ranger.
The Forest Service seeks to reevaluate all roads in the project area, including more than 80 miles of unauthorized roads. Some existing Forest Service roads may be decommissioned, particularly at Roads End Campground and in the Little Bridge Creek drainage, where sediment from the roads harms bull trout spawning areas. Some unauthorized roads may become officially recognized.
The plan also considers ways to improve the Chickadee trail system by reducing erosion as well as conflicts among various users. Some of these trails may be shut down and replaced by new trails.
The Forest Service is accepting public comment through Dec. 12 at fs.usda.gov/project/?project=56554. Mailed comments should be sent to Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Methow Valley Ranger District, c/o Eireann Pederson, 24 W. Chewuch Road, Winthrop, WA 98862.
Officials ask that comments relate to the following:
alternative ways to meet project goals.
information about the project area that should be considered.
potential effects of any proposed activities.
roads the public would like to see either maintained or decommissioned.