BLM's Gunnison, Colorado, field office to open 30-day public comment period on vegetation management project on 90,725 acres of land; many of project area's spruce and fir stands are overstocked or have died from insects/disease and pose wildfire risk

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GUNNISON, Colorado , October 11, 2022 (press release) –

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Gunnison Field Office plans to open a 30-day public comment period on the draft North Powderhorn Fuels Project Final Environmental Assessment. The assessment intends to analyze a comprehensive vegetation management program to improve forest health and resiliency and promote ecosystem diversity across the North Powderhorn project area northeast of Lake City, Colorado. The project area comprises 90,725 acres, including 53,877 within the Powderhorn Wilderness and Wilderness Study Area. Gunnison Field Office would implement the project over 15 years with a total treatment target of 20,000 acres.

“Over the past decade, historic fire suppression, persistent drought, and spruce beetle outbreaks have combined to disrupt natural processes and impact the character of the Powderhorn Wilderness,” said Jon Kaminsky, Gunnison Field Manager. “The purpose of this project is to reduce the potential of high severity fires and protect wilderness character, surrounding communities, soil vegetation health, and wildlife habitat.”

Many of the spruce and fir stands in the project area are overstocked from fire exclusion or have died from insect infestation and disease. The overstocked timber stands combined with drought conditions is an environment that can lead to wildfire. Fires of these fuel types in this condition tend to be high severity and long in duration, causing a threat to public safety and infrastructure, air and water quality, loss of habitat, soil erosion, and other concerns.

The 30-day public scoping period beginning October 7, 2022, is intended to identify potential issues and concerns and additional information the BLM should consider in its analysis. Project documents and information, including how to provide input, are available on the BLM ePlanning project website at: https://eplanning.blm.gov/eplanning-ui/project/2021619/510 and a public meeting is planned for October 18, 2022, at the Western Colorado University Ballroom from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm. The BLM will consider the public’s substantive comments on the proposal from October 7, 2022, through November 7, 2022, online or by U.S. mail at: BLM Gunnison Field Office, Attn: Brian Stevens, 210 W. Spencer Ave., Ste. A Gunnison, CO 81230.

If you have additional questions, contact Brian Stevens, Fire Management Specialist, at 970-642-4950 or by email to bwstevens@blm.gov.

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.

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