Forest health plan unveiled for White River National Forest around Aspen, elsewhere | AspenTimes.com

Forest health plan unveiled for White River National Forest around Aspen, elsewhere

Staff report

The White River National Forest announced plans Tuesday for a forest-wide vegetation management project that includes the area surrounding the Roaring Fork Valley.

The project is designed to maintain existing critical fuel breaks and treatment areas adjacent to communities, and to improve forest health in areas affected by the mountain pine beetle. A maximum of 1,000 acres of vegetation management will be conducted annually. The project will extend through Pitkin, Eagle, Garfield, Summit, Mesa and Rio Blanco counties.

"In response to the mountain pine beetle epidemic, the White River National Forest has worked aggressively to reduce fuel concentrations in critical areas adjacent to communities and to promote the regeneration of lodgepole pine," White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams said in a prepared statement. "However, we now have previously-treated areas across the forest that have regrown and are overly-dense and need maintenance to continue to be effective in the event of future wildfires."

The proposed project will include continued management of live and dead fuels within previously created fuel breaks in the wildland urban interface, where developed communities meet forest. Tree density will be reduced in naturally regenerating stands of young lodgepole pine. The extent of insects and disease will be reduced in lodgepole tree stands. There will be continued enhancement of tree species diversity through maintaining and protecting young Engelmann spruce trees planted in areas affected by past spruce beetle outbreaks.

Details on the project can be found online at http://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=55257. There is also a link for members of the public to submit comments. The agency is requesting comments prior to Jan. 31.

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