Sunday, July 12, 2020

BOCC voices concerns about logging plans in Taylor Park

Comment letter sent to USFS

By Katherine Nettles

The Gunnison County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) is taking some issues with a U.S. Forest Service (USFS) proposal to create temporary roads in Taylor Park to allow for extensive logging aimed at improving forest health and resilience. The USFS released the Taylor Park Vegetative Environmental Analysis last month and is accepting public comment through May 13.

More than 100 miles of new roads would be built to bring in lumber trucks for a timber sale in Taylor Canyon, as covered previously by The Crested Butte News. Although the roads would only be used by authorized personnel, commissioners believe that will be hard to enforce and remediate.

The BOCC unanimously approved a comment letter addressed to the USFS on May 7 in regards to the analysis prepared but Deputy county attorney Matthew Hoyt. The comments essentially take issue with the “sizeable number of additional roads created for the timber removal, but not as much consideration for how to keep the public off those roads,” said Hoyt.

The document approved by the commissioners states three concerns: that the Analysis should consider additional alternatives for policing the unauthorized use of temporary maintenance and administrative roads, that it should provide details on rehabilitation of the temporary roads and that it should better explain what “undetermined prescription” means as a vegetative management method for the area. The last request underscores that the acreage for this “undetermined prescription” method is relatively large at 193 acres.

County commissioner John Messner said that reclamation of the area once the project is complete is of particular concern, as did county commissioner Roland Mason.

“Specifically, we struggle with a lot of user-created roads with UTVs [utility task vehicles],” said county commissioner Jonathan Houck. “We would like more of a plan.”

“We already know that enforcement in this county is an issue,” said Hoyt.

The USFS hopes to make a final decision on the project by late summer, and the public feedback it is currently receiving will be a factor, says District Ranger Matthew McCombs of the Gunnison Ranger District. The tentative start for offering the timber sale is in 2021.

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