Are you concerned about the plans to protect the forest and the impact of forest health on the safety of communities in Rim Country?

Would you like to see plans implemented to ensure a safe, healthy forest for recreational benefits?

The U.S. Forest Service wants to hear from you.

At a meeting at the Payson District Ranger Station Tuesday, 35 residents came out to learn about the Rim Country portion of the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI) and the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) developed to address treatment plans for this area.

If you missed the opportunity to attend, the FS has meetings scheduled in Heber-Overgaard and Flagstaff in early December.

The FS is collecting comments, suggestions, and objections through Jan. 16 about the DEIS and the proposed alternatives.

4FRI

4FRI includes 2.4 million acres in the Kaibab, Coconino, Apache-Sitgreaves and Tonto national forests. Within that area, 1.24 million acres are in the Rim Country.

Not all of this acreage needs treatment, but as part of this process, the FS analyzed the area and the need for treatment to return the forest to healthy conditions and minimize the impact of wildfires.

The DEIS offers three treatment options:

Alternative 1 – No action.

Alternative 2 – The FS’s preferred plan of action. Includes 889,340 acres of mechanical removal of trees and 953,130 acres of prescribed burns.

Alternative 3 – A less ambitious restoration plan than alternative 2. Includes 483,160 acres of mechanical cutting treatment and 529,060 acres of prescribed burns.

Both 2 and 3 address grasslands, meadows, springs, streams and lakes, which will cause the same acreage or miles of stream protection and restoration.

The FS provides information on the 4FRI website about the 2002 Rodeo-Chediski Fire, a massive fire that tore through the Rim Country. The fire was approximately 40 miles wide and burned nearly half a million acres. There were 426 homes and other structures lost with a total suppression cost of $153 million dollars. This does not include the post-fire recovery costs.

The full DEIS document is 789 pages plus an additional 2,427 pages on management of the plan, such as recreation, range management, aquatics, and silviculture. There is a 10-page abstract and summary at https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/4fri/planning/?cid=stelprd3837085.

The DEIS comment period closes Jan. 16. Submit comments online at https://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public/ CommentInput?project=48210. Comments can also be submitted by email, mail, fax, or in person. The 4FRI Rim Country DEIS and associated documents are available at www.fs.usda.gov/goto/4FRIRimCountry.

The FS expects to review and respond to public comments and have a final EIS by the fall/winter of 2020. The final decision is expected in the spring/summer of 2021.

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