CPRD to proceed with Trail Gulch Project

Project implementation could take up to 15 years

MONTE VISTA — The Conejos Peak Ranger District of the Rio Grande National Forest announced Thursday, Oct. 27, the availability of the final decision notice and environmental assessment for the Trail Gulch Vegetation Management Project. District Ranger, Andrea Jones, has documented her decision to implement the project as originally proposed, with a minor modification.

The project includes a mix of vegetation treatment strategies including hand and mechanical thinning, pile and broadcast prescribed burning up to 8,400 acres and commercial timber harvesting on up to 9,500 acres over the next 15 years. The actions are designed to improve overall forest health and return fire as a landscape scale management tool.

“Getting to this point has been a long and thoughtful process,” said Conejos Peak District Ranger, Andrea Jones. “I cannot express enough appreciation for the partners, stakeholders and my staff for working together on what can be a new normal for landscape scale forest treatments. This work will, undoubtedly, greatly benefit the land and our communities.”

The Trail Gulch Project, located 10 miles west of Antonito, along and south of State Highway 17 in Conejos County, also includes water improvement projects to improve overall watershed health in the project area. Project implementation, including commercial harvest, is subject to acquiring the funds for operations.

The final project outcome was modified in the decision notice to remove 85 acres of proposed treatment due to overlap with a previous project. This adjustment provides for maintenance of existing high-value lynx habitat.

To view information on the Trail Gulch Project, visit the official project webpage at www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=60258. To view the new decision notice, navigate to the “Decision” tab under the Project Documents heading. Another informational webpage on the project is found here: www.fs.usda.gov/goto/riogrande/trailgulch. You may also call the Conejos Peak Ranger District office at 719-657-3321.

For information on the Rio Grande National Forest, call 719-852-5941, or visit their website www.fs.usda.gov/main/riogrande/home.