The Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests (GMUG) are beginning a new analysis to address current and expected insect and disease infestations in spruce and aspen forests. Published in the Federal Notice July 31, 2013, the "Notice of Intent" to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) formally initiates public involvement and comment on the proposal from interested citizens.
The GMUG has about 140,000 acres of spruce and 145,000 acres of aspen forests that have experienced substantial mortality from insects and disease over the past 12 years. Mortality in these forests is anticipated to rapidly increase due to insect and disease activities, continued drought and high temperatures. The purpose of the project is to proactively and adaptively respond to these conditions by actively managing vegetation in accordance with the Western Bark Strategy (July 2011). Approximately 250,000 to 350,000 acres will be analyzed with the potential to treat 4,000-6,000 acres annually in future years. Efforts to implement this strategy will include specific design criteria to address changing forest conditions and to avoid/mitigate environmental impacts from vegetative treatments.
The GMUG recently completed analysis on three large projects designed to restore forest health and to treat spruce beetle infested stands. These projects, Long Slough on Grand Valley Ranger District; Escalante on the Uncompahgre Plateaus; and LaGarita on the Gunnison Ranger District are all part of an effort to treat infested stands and "green" stands, salvage dead and dying timber and to make healthy stands more resilient to future insect and disease infestations. Appealed/objected to by Dick Artley and High Country Citizens' Alliance, all three of these analyses are subject to review at higher level(s) of the agency.blog comments powered by Disqus