Preliminary Environmental Assessment Released: Crystal Clear Timber Sale

Below is the letter announcing that the Preliminary Environmental Assessment, though not the final, has been completed by the agency and is available for the public's review.

 

 

Dear Interested Public,  

The Mt. Hood National Forest has recently released a Preliminary Assessment for the Crystal Clear Restoration Project located on the Barlow and Hood River Ranger Districts. We are now seeking comments from those that may be interested in or affected by this project.

This project has been in development since 2016 when presentations were made to collaborative groups on the Barlow and Hood River Ranger Districts. Following these discussions, on November 4, 2016, a pre-scoping letter was mailed to 160 individuals and groups providing general project information, potential needs and location. This initial outreach was to provide the public an opportunity to visit the planning area before there was snow on the ground since the formal scoping process was planned to occur during the winter of 2017. In addition to this pre-scoping letter, a public field trip was scheduled on November 17, 2016, which was coordinated with both Districts' collaborative groups: the Wasco County Forest Collaborative Group; and the Hood River Stew Crew. As a result, input and recommendations were received for consideration to improve the proposed action. On March 1, 201 7, a scoping letter providing information and seeking public comment was also mailed to approximately 160 individuals and groups.

The purpose of the Crystal Clear Restoration Project is to provide forest products where there is an opportunity to restore resiliency to forested areas and reduce the risk of uncharacteristic wildfire behavior. The need for action in this project area, consistent with Forest Plan direction, is to promote the overall sustainability of vegetative systems. Sustainability would be enhanced by increasing the resiliency of the area to withstand severe, uncharacteristic fires, or widespread occurrence of mortality from insects and disease.

In order to restore resilience and reduce the risk of uncharacteristic wildfire within the planning area, the proposed action would include thinning unmanaged stands and plantations of varying ages on approximately 12,725 acres. All thinning activities proposed in this project would apply variable density thinning, which allows for flexible local density levels and site characteristics to achieve the overall project objectives. Variable density thinning also allows for an emphasis to be placed on leaving vigorous trees of all sizes. Proposed treatment types would occur in either dry or moist mix conifer forest types and would place a greater emphasis in areas that were identified as needed for strategic fuel treatment in the Mt. Hood Strategic Fuel Treatment Plan.

In addition to the purpose and need for the project and the highlighted treatments to restore resilience to the landscape as described above, all of the proposed activities and effects analysis are available in the Preliminary Assessment, which is available on the Forest's website (http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/mthood/projects). The Forest's website also contains maps showing the proposed activities. The Preliminary Assessment discloses the impacts and benefits of the proposed action and shows that they implement the goals of the Forest Plan, as well as the associated planning documents applicable to the project area. 

We are now providing a 30-day public comment period for the Preliminary Assessment. Comments must be submitted within 30 days from the legal notification of the opportunity to comment in The Oregonian. The publication date of the legal notice is the exclusive means for calculating the time to submit a comment. Specific written comments should be within the scope of the proposed action, have a direct relationship to the proposed action, and must include supporting reasons for the Responsible Official to consider.

Comments will be accepted via mail and email. For mail, you may send your comments to the address below. You may also hand-deliver your comments to the mailing address during normal business hours from 7:45 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday, excluding federal holidays.

Crystal Clear Restoration Project

 

Attn: Casey Gatz, IDT Leader

Barlow Ranger District

780 NE Court St

Dufur, OR 97021

 

Electronic comments may be submitted to comments-pacificnorthwest-mthood-barlow@fs.fed.us in a format such as an email message, plain text (.txt), rich text format (.rtf), or Word (.doc or .docx). Comments received in response to this solicitation, including names and addresses of those who comment, will be part of the public record and may be released per request made under the Freedom of Information Act.

After the 30-day comment period, we will review and respond to comments and prepare an Environmental Assessment and Draft Decision Notice. Upon completion of the Environmental Assessment, there will be a pre-decisional objection period (36 CFR 218). Those who are eligible will be able to seek a review before the project decision has been signed. Considering public concerns before a decision is made aligns with the agencies approach to public land management and increases the likelihood of resolving those concerns resulting in better, more informed decisions. This will also aid in our effort to be more efficient with documenting environmental effects. Individuals and entities who submit timely, specific written comments regarding the proposed project during any designated opportunity for public comment may file an objection.

If you have any questions concerning this proposal, please contact Casey Gatz (IDT Leader) at (541) 352-1255 or cgatz@fs.fed.us. Thank you for your continued interest and participation in this project.

 

 

Sincerely,

/s/ Kameron C. Sam

KAMERON C. SAM

District Ranger