The US Forest Service Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI) Team has announced the 4FRI Rim Country EIS for forest restoration across much of the Mogollon Rim and into the White Mountains and has released the “Proposed Action” for that Project. Many of our favorite trout streams and prime fishing on and under the Rim are included in the “Footprint”. The Proposal already includes stream restoration for 350 miles of streams. We’ve got a great opportunity for real improvements in our Fishing Landscape, and this is an opportunity to directly help decide what actually gets done. Arizona Game and Fish, Trout Unlimited, and the Forest Service are already working together on this restoration, so let’s jump in, too.
The 4 Forest Restoration Initiative “Rim Country” EIS, which covers 1.24 Million Acres over significant parts of the Coconino, Tonto and Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, will include up to 350 miles of stream restoration work for both native and wild non-native trout. Release of the Scoping Documents last week started a 45 day comment period that will close Thursday August 11th. AZ Trout Unlimited is working this opportunity very hard, together with AZGFD. We can all ask AZGFD Aquatics Branch Chief Chris Cantrell about this during his presentation to DFC on July 13.
The “Rim Country” EIS will have a huge impact on All trout streams across the Mogollon Rim and through much of the White Mountains. It’s our fishing area! Even those streams that don’t see direct stream restoration will likely benefit from improved stream flows as the surrounding forest is restored to a more natural structure. See the Map below for an idea of just how widespread the streams are.
And of course, there are public comments being solicited and collected at meetings in Payson (Thursday night, July 21) or Show Low (Thursday night, July 14). I hope and encourage DFC members to make one of those meetings, learn more, talk directly to the planners, see detailed maps, and provide specific comments. It’s another great reason to leave the Valley early for a long weekend of fishing on the Rim or in the White Mtns. The Public Scoping Comment Period will close on Thursday August 11, so our August meeting will be just in time for a final reminder to comment.
The public inputs and comments obtained at the Scoping Meetings and during the Scoping Comment period will be used to perform analysis, develop Alternatives and proposed actions and a Draft EIS is expected next year. We’ll have another chance to submit comments at that time, but the earlier we get involved, the more influence we can have.
Here’s the Major Information from the Forest Service Press Release:
- Forest Service seeks public input on Rim Country Proposed Action
- Four Forest Restoration Initiative Stakeholders Group hosts two public meetings
Flagstaff, AZ – June 29, 2016 – For Immediate Release: The Forest Service has released the Proposed Action (PA) for the Rim Country Project and the public is encouraged to provide comments. These comments will help the Interdisciplinary Team as they conduct a comprehensive analysis of the environmental impacts of the proposed restoration treatments.
The Rim Country Project is the second landscape scale, multi forest analysis within the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI). The Forest Service is proposing restoration activities on nearly 1.24 million acres along the Mogollon Rim near the communities of Happy Jack, Payson, Young, Heber-Overgaard, Show Low, and Pinetop-Lakeside. The objective is to re-establish forest ecosystems that support natural fire regimes, promote functioning populations of native plants and animals, and reduce the threat of destructive wildfire. Proposed treatments include thinning, prescribed fire, reforestation, spring and stream restoration, and decommissioning and improving roads.
The following two public meetings have been scheduled by the 4FRI Stakeholder Group. These meetings are open to all members of the public.
- Thursday, July 14 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Frontier Conference Room in Show Low.
- Thursday, July 21 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Julia Randall Elementary School gymnasium in Payson.
The next step in the planning process will be to review and respond to comments and develop alternatives to be described and analyzed in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The Draft
EIS is expected in July 2017 and the Final EIS is expected in September 2018. To be most helpful, comments on the PA should be submitted by August 11.
Send written comments to the Four Forest Restoration Initiative at 1824 S. Thompson St, Flagstaff, AZ 86001, by fax to 928-527- 3620, or by email to 4FRI_comments@fs.fed.us. The public can review the Proposed Action and follow the project as the planning process continues by visiting www.fs.usda.gov/goto/4FRIRimCountry.
The Complete 32 page Proposed action, with maps, details of analysis to be done, discussion of Desired Conditions and proposed treatments, etc., can be viewed at the website address above. Here it is again: www.fs.usda.gov/goto/4FRIRimCountry.
For more information, you can always contact Joe Miller, at firstname.lastname@example.org.