White River National Forest asking for public comment on aspen management project

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The White River National Forest is asking for public feedback on a new proposal designed to improve the health of its aspen forests.

Officials with the national forest created the White River Aspen Management Project, which would include timber harvesting and prescribed burns to maintain and expand aspen stands. Currently, many aspen forests are suffering — as they have for decades — from drought, insects, and disease, officials said. Wildfire suppression has also allowed conifer trees to replace aspen forests in some areas.

The White River National Forest contains almost 600,000 acres of aspen. Of those, 375,000 acres meet the guidelines for management to step in under the proposal. Officials would harvest up to 10,000 acres per decade and burn an additional 10,000 acres per decade. This management would improve the resiliency of the forests to disturbances while also improving wildlife habitat, officials said.

Acting White River National Forest Supervisor Lisa Stoeffler said aspen trees are important in Colorado for several reasons, from their scenic value to the important habitat they provide for wildlife. They can also help mitigate large wildfires, she said.

“We have seen a long-term decline in aspen, and these management techniques would proactively promote the health and regeneration of aspen across the White River National Forest,” she said.

The proposal includes a detailed overview of how specific areas would be selected and the treatment techniques that would be used.

To learn more about the proposal, click here or read it below.

All comments on the proposal must be submitted before April 20, 2021 electronically to brett.crary@usda.gov or by mail to:
Forest Supervisor, c/o Brett Crary
900 Grand Ave
Glenwood Springs, CO
81601