HUPC Action Alert on Yellowstone River Fuels Reduction Project - COMMENTS NEEDED BY 5 JANUARY 2005
Good HUPC friends,
Either scan your signature or assure your name and address are on the email. Do not send your letter as an attachment. It must be sent as MS Word or rich text format. Make sure the subject is noted as Yellowstone Fuels Project comments!
This PROPOSAL consists of reducing fuel loads in the ponderosa pine stands on the east side of the Yellowstone River and within the sagebrush flats in the bottom of the canyon. The proposal calls for removing and thinning dead trees from the ponderosa pine stands and removing small ladder fuels, broken branches and other debris. This would be done by both prescribed fire and mechanical treatments. Sagebrush would primarily be removed through mechanical treatment and would eliminate a large component of mature sagebrush. The supposed purpose of this action is to protect from wild fire the structures, trailheads and campgrounds along the Yellowstone River from the forest boundary north to the High Uintas Wilderness boundary at the Swift Creek/Yellowstone Trailhead.
While the proposal has merit, the proposed action is far beyond what actually should be done. Furthermore, the Ashley National Forest is using a process whereby scoping and commenting upon the proposed action are one and the same. It is likely that we will not actually see the environmental analysis until the decision is made, mocking the context of public comment.
The proposal suggests “treatments” on the ponderosa pine stands deep within the roadless area along the Yellowstone River at distances of one half to two miles from the road!
There is no disputation about the need to remove small flammable fuels within 100-300 feet of structures such as cabins, out buildings, campgrounds and roadways. The data is clear—this is the most effective management strategy and one we support within highly developed areas such as the Yellowstone River Canyon below the High Uintas Wilderness. Thus we suggest the Forest Service analyze and implement such an ALTERNATIVE. Where sagebrush can actually be shown to be a threat to structures, we support treatments to minimize the ability of sagebrush to carry a threatening fire.
Remember, comments are due by 5 January. Thanks much!
We have included a short example letter.
Dear Mr. Tucker:
I have some concerns and questions about the Yellowstone Fuels Project. I am troubled by the proposal to concurrently scope and take substantive comments on the proposed action.
It is crucial, right and fair to be able to comment upon the full Environmental Analysis (EA), alternatives and issues before a decision is made and I urge you to assure the complete EA is provided for a 30 day comment period prior to a final decision.
I fully support the idea of protecting the structures, campgrounds, road and trailheads in the bottom of the developed portion of Yellowstone River Canyon south of the High Uintas Wilderness (HUW) and outside of the important roadless country adjacent to Yellowstone River Canyon and the HUW.
The most effective fuels management strategy related to actually protecting the intended structures is to remove the highly flammable material within 100-300 feet of the structure and to make sure the structures are properly constructed to minimize flammability. I fully support your efforts in that direction. Rather than potential treatments in roadless country, which will have limited, if any, effects upon actually protecting structures and campgrounds, I urge you to consider an alternative that treats only the ponderosa pine and other flammable materials immediately adjacent to campgrounds, structures and roads within the bottom of the canyon. highNo alternative should consider any action within roadless areas.