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Sat, Sept. 26

Forest Service begins marking trees for thinning near Tusayan
1,000-acre restoration project to be implemented southeast of Tusayan

A feller bunch-er cuts a tree during the Bill Williams Mountain Restoration Project on Kaibab National Forest in 2019. (Photo/Dyan Bone, Kaibab National 

A feller bunch-er cuts a tree during the Bill Williams Mountain Restoration Project on Kaibab National Forest in 2019. (Photo/Dyan Bone, Kaibab National Forest)

TUSAYAN, Ariz. — To prepare the area for future thinning as part of ongoing forest restoration efforts, Kaibab National Forest will begin marking trees this month in the 1,000-acre East Project.

The project is located along Forest Road 302, also known as Twin Tank Rd, approximately 2 to 5 miles southeast of the town of Tusayan and east of Ten X Campground.

Forest Service crews recently began painting the boundaries of the East X Project and last week started marking trees within those boundaries. The public should expect to see orange and blue markings on the trees throughout the project area. Orange "leave tree" marks, which designate trees intended to remain post-treatment, will be used in some units while other units will be marked with blue "cut tree" marks to indicate trees to be removed during treatment. Forest Service marking crews make every effort to limit the visibility of tree marking paint where possible, such as along roadways and adjacent to private property and recreation sites, so as to not impede the views of residents and visitors.

Painting is likely to be completed by late autumn 2020, and will be offered for contract thereafter. The time-frame for implementation is unknown at this time, as it will depend on the timing of award and terms of the con-tract. Generally, thinning takes place over the course of several years as conditions allow. This area consists of a ponderosa pine overstory with scattered oak and juniper in the understory, and has become overly dense because of fire exclusion and other factors. In these units, treatments will focus on removing trees in order to more closely resemble historic stand structures, which include more openings between groups of trees and fewer areas of interlocking crowns. Goals of these treatments include reducing threats to lives, private property and forest resources posed by unnaturally severe wildfire, improving the overall health of the remaining stand by increasing tree age and species diversity and enhancing wildlife habitat through improved grass and understory vegetation growth. This project is part of the collaborative Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI), which seeks to accelerate forest restoration treatments across 2.4 million acres of ponderosa pine forest on the Mogollon Rim of northern Arizona. The East X project area was among one million acres that were analyzed under the 4FRI First Environmental Impact Statement, which approved forest restoration work across more than 580,000 acres of the Kaibab and Coconino National Forests.

Information provided by U.S. Forest Service

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