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The U.S. Forest Service last week issued the following press release on the approval of the White River National Forest Health and Fuels Project:
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. (July 2, 2021) – Today the White River National Forest approved a plan to maintain areas thinned several decades ago, including critical fuel breaks and other treatment areas across the forest.
Under the White River National Forest Health and Fuels Project, up to 10,000 acres of National Forest System lands could be thinned over the next 15 years to improve forest health and maintain fuel breaks. No more than 1,000 acres would be treated in any one year.
“This decision allows us to conduct much-needed treatment in young, overstocked stands throughout the forest, including areas within the Wildland Urban Interface,” said Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams. “This will enhance forest health as well as maintain fuel breaks important for public and firefighter safety.”
Many lodgepole pine stands cut in the mid-1980s through the mid-1990s have regenerated with dense, young lodgepole trees. Other areas that were cut to address a spruce beetle epidemic and replanted with Engelmann spruce are seeing a high amount of sub-alpine fir regenerating. Thinning these areas will reduce competition and promote individual tree growth to improve forest health.
Lodgepole pine is also regenerating in fuel breaks near communities, and these areas need to be thinned to continue to be effective.
The decision streamlines the approval process for specific projects and outlines how the forest will select areas to be treated, including public involvement. The Forest Service will prioritize areas to be treated on an annual basis.
The decision is available at https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=55257.