Mission restoration project analysis continues; additional comments sought

TWISP – As part of the Forest Service’s mission to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of this landscape, the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest sought comments earlier this year on a 50,000 acre forest restoration project south of the community of Twisp. The Mission Restoration Project includes treatments to improve forest health and repair forest road infrastructure.

Since seeking comments on the proposed project earlier this year, it was determined that one amendment would be needed to the existing Okanogan National Forest Plan. This proposed amendment would reduce some winter deer range cover through thinning to reduce wildfire hazard in the urban interface; restore dense, overcrowded forests and increase forest health.

As a reminder, the highlights of the preferred alternative for the Mission Restoration Project include:

  • Up to 11,000 acres of prescribed fire are planned over the next 15 years (with up to 2,000 acres each year) to improve wildlife habitat, reduce hazardous fuels, and return good fire to the landscape.
  • Water quality and aquatic habitat would be improved throughout the watershed with more than six miles of stream re-opened.
  • Commercial thinning would help restore dense, overcrowded forest on up to 2,000 acres while non-commercial thinning is planned on up to 8,300 acres.
  • Elevated risk of crown fire would be reduced across the project area, including areas where private or state lands meet the Forest.
  • More than 53 miles of roads would remain open to provide for sustainable and safe forest recreation access.
  • Wood from thinning slash would be for firewood collection if accessible.
  • No thinning or prescribed fire would occur within Forest Plan Old Growth or Wilderness.

In accordance with federal regulations, the Forest Service will offer a 30-day formal comment period on the proposed Forest Plan amendment, which will begin with a legal notice published in The Wenatchee World. More information about the Mission Restoration Project and this Forest Plan amendment is online at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=49201. Those comments already submitted on the project will be considered and do not need to be re-submitted. A final Environmental Analysis and draft Decision Notice is expected later this year.

Get the latest forest news and alerts by texting ‘follow OkaWenNF’ to 40404, ‘liking’ us on facebook or following us on twitter @OkaWenNF. The mission of the USDA Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.

About Shannon O'Brien

Shannon O'Brien is a U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman for the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest