Includes thinning, burning, habitat enhancement
A public comment period is open through Nov. 28 for the Twisp Restoration Project, which proposes a wide range of forest and aquatic restoration activities on 77,039 acres on the Methow Ranger District in the Twisp River, Alder Creek, Rader Creek and Wolf Creek drainages.
The U.S. Forest Service released a preliminary Environmental Assessment (EA) for the project on Oct. 22, which began a 30-day comment period. That was extended to Nov. 28 because some people were left off the Forest Service email list.
The landscape-scale project proposes “a full suite of treatments such as overstory (commercial) and understory vegetation management, prescribed fire, wildlife and aquatic habitat enhancements and restoration actions, and road and trail management changes,” according to the Forest Service. The project excludes areas within the Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness.
Information about the project, including the EA, can be found on the project website: http://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=56554.
Proposed actions described in the EA include 30,222 acres of understory vegetation thinning and 21,985 acres of overstory thinning; 59,093 acres treated with prescribed fire; firewood gathering on 936 acres in Late Successional Reserves; installing 30 beaver dam analogs and five raptor nests; 21.2 miles of large wood placement in streams; planting 700 trees in aquatic areas; removing the Road’s End campground; removing hazard trees along up to 251 miles of roads; creating 16.5 miles of permanent roads; and authorizing 22 miles for all-terrain vehicle use on Forest Service roads along the Twisp River.
The EA cites five areas of need to be addressed in the project:
• Protect and maintain high-functioning aquatic, riparian, and hydrologic resources for threatened and endangered aquatic species and restore areas impacted by past management. Increase watershed resiliency to existing and anticipated disturbances.
• Modify vegetation structure, composition, and patterns to develop, maintain, or restore healthy stand structures that respond to disturbances in a resilient manner and are consistent with historic and future ranges of variability.
• Protect, develop, and/or enhance late and old forest stands for wildlife species dependent on them and reduce the risk of large-scale habitat loss to fires by increasing resilience of habitats to wildfire. Protect remaining lynx habitat to minimize further losses and keep this feature on the landscape. Protect remaining bitterbrush habitat on high-density mule deer winter ranges to minimize further losses. Protect, develop, and enhance beaver pond systems for wildlife species that depend on them.
• Modify the structure, composition, and patterns of forest stands within and adjacent to the wildland/urban interface (WUI) to reduce and/or maintain fire intensity and the risk of crown fire initiation and enable the use of more direct firefighting strategies to protect life and personal property. Reduce fire intensity along major access routes and ridges within and outside of the WUI to minimize the hazards of ingress/egress and provide effective suppression anchor points that limit fire spread during wildfires.
• Provide a transportation system that is affordable, safe, and efficient for administration, public use, and protection of Forest Service lands while also providing high-quality recreation experiences and access for forest management. Reduce the risk to forest visitors from trees categorized as “danger trees” along open Forest Service roads. In the Chickadee trail system, reduce erosion caused by some existing trails.
The project includes amendments to the Forest Plan related to non-scheduled timber harvest and fuels treatments in Forest Plan Old Growth; snowplowing to allow for winter logging; deer cover; mountain goat habitat; timber harvest in stands over 80 years old; and firewood gathering in Late Successional Reserves.
With current restrictions on public gatherings, no field trips or public meetings in person are planned, however, a virtual public meeting will be held Nov. 5 at 6:30 p.m. Questions should be submitted by Nov. 4 at 4:30 p.m. to Eireann Pederson at Eireann.Pederson@usda.gov or Meg Trebon at Meg.Trebon@usda.gov.
The Forest Service has also created a self-guided tour of the project using an app in lieu of a field trip. Information about how to join the virtual public meeting or access the self-guided tour is available on the project website under the “Analysis” tab.
To submit comments electronically, go to https://www.cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public//CommentInput?Project=56554. Comments can be mailed to Eireann Pederson, Methow Valley Ranger District, 24 W. Chewuch Road, Winthrop, WA 98862.