White River National Forest seeking comments on aspen management project | VailDaily.com

White River National Forest seeking comments on aspen management project

The expansive, 2.3-million-acre White River National Forest holds nearly 600,000 acres of aspen. Forest officials are looking to improve aspen health in years to come. (Special to the Daily)

Many aspen forests have declined in recent decades because of drought, insects and disease, and wildfire suppression has allowed conifers to replace aspen forests in some areas. White River National Forest is now seeking comments on a proposed management project developed over the past couple years to improve aspen health in years to come.

The management project would use a combination of timber harvesting and prescribed fire to maintain and expand aspen stands in the national forest.

“Aspen are important for a number of reasons, including their scenic value, the important wildlife habitat they provide and their potential to help mitigate large wildfires,” said Lisa Stoeffler, acting supervisor for White River National Forest.

“We have seen a long-term decline in aspen, and these management techniques would proactively promote the health and regeneration of aspen across the White River National Forest,” she added.

The expansive, 2.3-million-acre national forest holds nearly 600,000 acres of aspen, about 375,000 acres of which would meet general guidelines for where management actions could be considered under the proposed project.

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Within those areas, the national forest is proposing to use various timber harvesting methods on up to 10,000 acres per decade, as well as an additional 10,000 acres per decade of prescribed fire.

The White River Aspen Management Project proposal provides an overview of how specific areas would be selected for treatment, specific treatment techniques that could be used and the general areas available for projects. That is meant to streamline the analysis needed for site-specific harvest or prescribed fire projects.

According to the national forest, no treatments would be done in designated wilderness areas and no temporary road building would occur in Colorado Roadless Areas, though prescribed burning with incidental tree cutting to prepare fire lines could occur in Colorado Roadless Areas to improve the health of aspen forests and wildlife habitat.

Comments on the proposal must be received on or before April 20. More information about the proposal and how to comment is available at http://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=59419.

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