The USFS has released the Final Decision Notice (DN) for the Forsythe ll project, which triggers implementation of the project. Logging is expected to start in 2018. The DN can be found here. While we still feel this project is misguided, we did make some inroads in the design of the project. These include:
- A 300′ defensible space buffer around private property, where the USFS won’t cut, unless requested, but where homeowners can create defensible space.
- They will cut 1000 fewer acres.
- The largest conifers will be preserved. There will be a maximum cut diameter limit of 14″ and the largest 10% of trees will be saved within mixed conifer units.
- Aspen units will retain more surrounding conifers.
- Thick lodgepole pine regeneration from the last project will be thinned.
- Soil scorched by hot burning of piles will be tilled and seeded
- Knolls and rock outcroppings won’t be denuded of trees
- A multiparty monitoring group (MMG) will be formed and we plan to be participants.
Thanks to all who signed the petition, wrote letters, and donated funds! Along with tireless work from individuals within our group, you helped to effect these changes.
Our work is not over! We hope to use the MMG to continue to make small changes, which can have a large impact. Changes to specific unit designs can ensure that USFS purposes and needs are met, while we do our best to protect flora and fauna, scenery, and recreational opportunities.
We need people to help with the monitoring process, which includes funding, as well as boots on the ground and seats at the table. Members of the local community have unique knowledge about this area that USFS personnel don’t have. Sharing this knowledge through the unit specific design process can help save some of the special features of this area. Also, there can be many a misstep between the DN and the ultimate finished project. We will need to keep tabs on the USFS and the contractors to guarantee the DN and unit designs are adhered to in the field. As the Multiparty Monitoring moves forward, we’ll especially need volunteers to contribute a few hours to share their knowledge of wildlife and the social values (e.g. trails) in areas (units) they know particularly well. We hope we can count on you. If you live nearby and can volunteer a couple of hours now and then, please use the Volunteer button to let us know. If you aren’t a neighbor, you can help us with your donations. Monitoring does have associated costs and, in addition, we hope to hold some educational forums to help people understand fire mitigation in the Wildland Urban Interface. Only through education and community participation can devastating projects like this one be averted and/or improved.
We have not taken legal action off of the table. This will depend on whether the USFS acts in good faith with regards to the MMG, or whether it is just another opportunity for them to check a bureaucratic box. We are hopeful that this will be an opportunity for true collaboration to improve the project, but that remains to be seen.