Decision provides homeowners opportunity to reduce risk of wildfire to private property
The U.S. Forest Service has set a path forward for a fuels reduction and forest health project on a portion of the Roosevelt National Forest with its release today of a final decision on the Forsythe II Project, located between the Town of Nederland and Gross Reservoir.
The project aims to reduce the buildup of forest fuels that increase the severity of wildfire and to help improve the condition of forest stands to make the area more resilient to future natural disturbances such as drought, disease and insects. The project also provides an opportunity for homeowners to create defensible space on National Forest lands that border their private property.
The decision concludes an environmental assessment and public input process that started in 2014 when the original Forsythe project was halted due to public concerns. The Forest Service worked collaboratively with the public and local cooperators over the past two years to identify mutual goals. These conversations helped reshape and refine the project.
“We truly value the conversations we’ve had with the public over this project,” said Forest Supervisor Monte Williams. “Thanks to the valuable and important input we received, we were able to come to a decision that honors the relationship this community has with the National Forest out its back door, while also enhancing it for future generations.”
Some key adjustments made since the first project proposal in Sept. 2015 include dropping more than a thousand acres of proposed treatment in response to concerns about the scale of the project; reducing the area, amount and size of trees to be treated within all vegetation types; and creating a 300-foot no-cut buffer along the boundary of all private land. The project will ultimately treat 2,460 acres of land.
In addition, the project creates an opportunity for private landowners to create defensible space on National Forest lands near their homes and outbuildings.
An important component of the decision involves the establishment of a multiparty monitoring group. This group will be facilitated and led by the Colorado Forest Restoration Institute at Colorado State University. The group will be open to anyone who is interested in participating, such as area residents, representatives from local cooperating agencies, and experts from various scientific fields. It will convene in late summer or early fall and collectively establish the goals and information it wishes to monitor.
“The public involvement process doesn’t end just because we’ve made a decision,” Williams said. “We are entering a new phase of involvement now. I believe this monitoring group will provide an opportunity to earn trust with the public who’ve doubted the value of this project and to gain a common understanding of the goals and science involved.”
More information about the Forsythe II project decision and what’s involved in the multiparty monitoring plan can be found on our website at www.fs.usda.gov/goto/arp/Forsythe2.