Forest Service releases draft decision for Buford/New Castle Project

RBC | The White River National Forest has released a Final Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact (EA/FONSI) and draft Decision Notice (DN) for the Buford New Castle Project, located on the Rifle and Blanco Ranger Districts, in Garfield and Rio Blanco counties.
“This decision represents a unique opportunity to manage vegetation for a variety of benefits,” said Sarah Hankens, Rifle District Ranger. “The Buford New Castle Project demonstrates how recreation management and vegetation management can work together for long-term benefits and how active forest management sets the stage for a healthy future forest.”
The Final EA and FONSI describes the proposed activities in detail and analyzes the potential environmental effects of implementation. The draft DN includes the District Ranger’s Selected Alternative and a rationale for this decision. The Selected Alternative will authorize vegetation management treatments on 615 acres and a variety of silviculture methods will be used.
Additional activities authorized with the proposed action include installing interpretive signs along the road corridor, the development of 10-stock ponds, widening of the Buford New Castle Road to provide a more uniform width, improvements to create safer driving conditions on the Buford New Castle Road, and road maintenance through grading.
According to Doug Leyva, Timber and Fuels program manager for the White River National Forest, “The Selected Alternative gives the Forest Service an opportunity to actively manage aspen across the landscapes, increase diversity to make ecosystems more resilient to natural disturbance processes and provides forest products to local businesses.”
The Selected Alternative best meets the Purpose and Need of the project while balancing effects to natural and social resources. The Forest Service carefully considered comments from members of the public and developed site-specific design features to minimize negative effects associated with logging activities.
The release of this draft decision initiates the 45-day objections period. Individuals who submitted timely and specific written comments during the combined scoping and comment period (Nov. 19, 2015 through Dec. 18, 2015) will have eligibility to file an objection to the draft DN under 36 CFR 218.
Both documents are available for download on the White River National Forest website at Hardcopies may be reviewed at the Rifle Ranger District, in Rifle, Colo.
Objections, including attachments, must be filed via mail, fax, email, hand-delivery, express delivery or messenger service (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., excluding holidays) to: Reviewing Officer, Brian Ferebee, Regional Forester, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region, 740 Simms, Golden, CO 80401; FAX: 303-275-5134, or email
Objections must be submitted within 45 calendar days following the publication of a legal notice in the Rifle Citizen Telegram. The legal notice is anticipated to be published March 9, 2017. The publication date in the newspaper of record is the exclusive means for calculating the time to file an objection. Those wishing to object should not rely upon dates or timeframe information provided by any other source. The regulations prohibit extending the time to file an objection.