Delta, CO., (January 26, 2015) – The Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests are working on a large-scale project to address the spruce beetle epidemic and declining aspen stands. Referenced by the acronym “SBEADMR” for short, the public outreach effort began in July 2013, with publication of the “Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)” in the Federal Register. Since then, the Forest Service has been engaged in ongoing outreach, public involvement and collaboration with interested groups and individuals.
Working with Uncompahgre/Com, Inc. and Public Lands Partnership (PLP), the Forest Service has engaged numerous interested citizens, groups and organizations to provide scientific information, to comment and to build collaboration into the planning process for the project. Public meetings, workshops, a science meeting and a field trip were hosted by PLP to foster deeper understanding and seek comment into the tools, analysis, issues and options related to the project and the analysis.
Recognizing a desire on the part of stakeholders to continue dialogue and potential benefits for further collaborative work, Uncompahgre/Com and PLP offered to convene and facilitate a working group for SBEADMR. The Working Group is its own entity; however, it is facilitated by the Public Lands Partnership as part of their efforts to “bring together varied interests to work on local natural resources issues.” The Working Group met throughout the fall and continues to meet.
The Forest Service is in the process of completing the analysis and documentation of the alternatives that reflect feedback from stakeholders and scientists and clearly specify monitoring requirements and processes. Additionally, the GMUG has entered into an agreement with the Rocky Mountain Research Station and Colorado State University/Colorado Forest Restoration Institute to address science questions and monitoring needs for the project.
The Forest Service anticipates release of the Draft EIS for the Project in late April 2015 for 45-day public review and comment.