Kaibab National Forest seeks input on Kaibab Plateau restoration project

Fall colors changing on the North Kaibab Ranger District in 2017. Visitors can expect prime viewing to last until around the second week of October. (Kaibab National Forest)

Fall colors changing on the North Kaibab Ranger District in 2017. Visitors can expect prime viewing to last until around the second week of October. (Kaibab National Forest)

WILLIAMS, Ariz. — Kaibab National Forest is seeking public input and comments on a proposed project to reduce the threat of uncharacteristic, high-intensity wildfire and to restore the structure, species composition and function of ecosystems on the Kaibab Plateau.

The project, known as the Kaibab Plateau Ecological Restoration Project, is designed to increase resiliency and overall health of vegetation and watersheds and to restore low-intensity fire to the fire-adapted ecosystems of the area. Specifically, the proposed action includes prescribed fire and non-commercial, mechanical vegetation treatments on about 511,000 acres of the North Kaibab Ranger District of the Kaibab National Forest.

Most of the Kaibab National Forest’s vegetation is adapted to recurring wildfires, and fire naturally plays a vital role in maintaining ecosystem health. The condition and structure of the project area’s forests, woodlands, shrublands and grasslands have changed dramatically from natural conditions, in large part because fire has been excluded due to decades of successful fire suppression efforts. Today, the project area contains uncharacteristically dense forests with many more young trees than were present historically, and climate change is making them vulnerable to more frequent high-intensity wildfires.

The project is intended to address those changed conditions by implementing prescribed fire and non-commercial, mechanical vegetation treatments. Prescribed fire would include broadcast burning and pile burning to reduce fuel levels and tree densities, control conifer regeneration, and promote understory plant vigor. Mechanical treatments would include pruning ladder fuels, mastication, chipping and thinning to remove smaller trees with the goal of protecting larger or older trees by targeting understory and ladder fuels.

Kaibab National Forest encourages public participation in the development of proposed projects and is seeking input and comments on the Kaibab Plateau Ecological Restoration Project. Specific, written comments should be received no later than Nov. 5.

Comments must be in writing and may be delivered electronically, in person, or by mail or facsimile. Electronic comments may be emailed to comments-southwestern-kaibab-north-kaibab@fs.fed.us. Please include “Kaibab Plateau Ecological Restoration Project” in the subject line. Comments may be submitted electronically. Submit comments via hand delivery (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to noon, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., excluding holidays) or mail to: U.S. Forest Service, Kaibab National Forest, Attn: Sue Farley, 800 South 6th Street, Williams, AZ 86046. Send comments via facsimile to (928) 635-8280.

Information provided by Kaibab National Forest

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