Forest Service planning landscape-level project in the Roaring Fork Valley
* See the project documents here
* Visit the planning blog here
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — The Forest Service is in the early stages of planning a wildlife habitat restoration project in the Roaring Fork Valley, between Glenwood Springs and Aspen, that would treat up to 26,000 acres with prescribed fire. Another 19,400 acres would be improved with a combination of fire and mechanical treatments.
“Restoring degraded habitat is an important goal shared by many federal and state biologists in the area,” said Phil Nyland, wildlife biologist for the Aspen and Sopris Ranger Districts and leader for this project. “As professionals, we agree that the time for action has arrived. To benefit large numbers of wildlife, the need for action should be addressed at the landscape level.”
One of the most important natural values in the Roaring Fork Valley is the abundance of wildlife populations. The national forests surrounding the valley are essential habitat for a wide variety of species. The Forest Service is proposing to improve 50,000 acres of this habitat so the wildlife will continue to flourish in the valley, Nyland explained.
Historically, fire has played an important role in maintaining the quality and carrying capacity of wildlife habitat on the White River National Forest and adjoining lands. Past management practices of excluding fire from the landscape along with extensive development in the valley have resulted in the degradation of habitat.
The Forest Service proposes to use prescribed fire and mechanical treatments to restore habitat vigor to areas of the Roaring Fork Valley and its tributaries. These actions would increase the carrying capacity of the landscape and possibly reduce the pressure of wildlife feeding on private lands. The proposed treatments are focused in specific areas where reproduction, winter range and summer foraging opportunities have become degraded due to the disruption or cessation of fire and other natural disturbance events.
Mechanical treatments include cutting or mulching vegetation. Machines such as a hydro-axe, mulchers, roller chopper or similar equipment are used when mechanical treatments are prescribed. For more information about this proposal, including a map and a full description of the proposed action, go to the Forest Service web site.
“The reality is that much of the wildlife habitat in the valley floor has been developed,” said White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams. “This makes the national forest lands above the valley floor even more important for wildlife. This landscape-scale proposal is essential for improving this habitat so we can continue to enjoy abundant wildlife. Working with the communities and our partners, I am confident we can complete this important work,” he said.
“I would like to hear your concerns regarding this proposal, as well as your recommendations as to how we can best address your concerns,” Fitzwilliams said.
The Forest Service has set up a blog for this project to serve as a forum for sharing information and encouraging dialogue. Click here to visit the blog.
Filed under: biodiversity, Environment, public lands, Summit County Colorado, wildlife Tagged: | Environment, prescribed burns, Roaring Fork Valley, Summit County Colorado, Summit County News, United States Forest Service, White River National Forest, wildlife habitat