Did you know that since HCCA’s inception we’ve been key players in protecting our Forest from ill-devised and poorly planned large-scale timber sales?  Our work on this issue started up again last July when the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forest proposed a thousands-acre decade-long timber sale called the Spruce Beetle Epidemic and Aspen Decline Management Response (SBEADMR) project.  The proposal would analyze and consider harvest operations in 118,000 acres of spruce-fir, 140,000 acres of aspen, and an additional 60,000 acres of aspen not in lynx habitat.  The Forest Service proposed an annual harvest range of 4,000 to 6,000 acres and for an additional 3,000 to 6,000 acres to be non-commercially treated.  Whoo – that’s BIG and could have significant negative impacts if not implemented and monitored properly.

If you’ve driven down to Lake City and over Slumgullion Pass recently, I am sure you saw the many dead trees as a result of spruce beetle.  Perhaps you also noticed the bright-green shoots of healthy, natural regenerative growth taking hold.  As the Forest Service’s proposal currently stands, there’s a real concern that healthy, natural regenerative growth―like these bright-green shoots―may be destroyed as a result of timber harvesting.  New-emerging science has also demonstrated that active management may exacerbate beetle impacts and potentially decrease a forest’s ability to adapt to climate change.

So, over the past year, HCCA has worked in conjunction with our partners Sheep Mountain Alliance, Western Colorado Congress, Western Slope Conservation Center, and Wilderness Workshop, to ensure that should this proposal move forward that:

(1) Priority acres harvested/treated are those in the wildland-urban interface so human life and property is protected;

(2) Important wildlife habitat is left intact; and

(3) All harvests/treatments incorporate new-emerging science and information gained from harvest/treatment monitoring.

Our work has also resulted in two great opportunities for the public to attend meetings and learn about the most current science regarding forest health, climate change, and bugs!  I encourage you take the opportunity to attend the Montrose science/management meeting August 19 in Montrose.  It will be held in the Jordan Room in the Montrose Holiday Inn, 8:30 am – 4:30 pm.  Can’t make the 19th or want to go out into the field as well as attend the science meeting?  Come to the September 4th Field Trip into the Gunnison National Forest, meet at 9:00 am in Gunnison and expect to return around 4 pm.  What an opportunity to ask questions of the leading scientists on these issues and to learn more about our Forest!  To RSVP for these events contact Mary Johnson with the Forest Service at 970.874.6684 or email at maryjohnson@fs.fed.us.  For more information on this proposed project visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/SBEADMR.