SANTA FE – The Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) announced the release of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and draft Record of Decision (ROD) for one of the largest forest restoration projects in the Southwest.
The Southwest Jemez Mountains (SWJM) Landscape Restoration Project is a long-term collaborative effort to restore forest ecosystems at the landscape scale and improve resilience to major disturbances, including fire, insects and disease, and climate change.
SFNF Supervisor Maria T. Garcia said the plan of action selected for the SWJM project is based on the best available science and reflects public comments received during the scoping period in 2012 and the formal comment period for the draft EIS in 2014.
The FEIS is subject to the pre-decisional objection process recently implemented by the Forest Service. “Considering public concerns again before a decision is made aligns with our collaborative approach to public land management and increases the likelihood of resolving those concerns for more informed and better decisions,” Garcia said.
To be eligible to object to the FEIS or draft ROD, individuals or organizations must have submitted comments on the SWJM project during the previous scoping and comment periods.
Objections must be submitted within 45 calendar days after the Aug. 19, 2015, publication of the legal notice in the Albuquerque Journal. Additional information on submitting an objection can be found in the SFNF letter to interested parties.
Lead partners in the SWJM project include the SFNF, Valles Caldera National Preserve, US Geological Survey, Forest Guild, New Mexico Forest and Watershed Restoration Institute, New Mexico Forest Industry Association, Pueblo of Jemez, WildEarth Guardians and The Nature Conservancy.
More than 40 agencies and stakeholder groups developed the strategy to treat 210,000 acres across multiple ownership boundaries and integrate treatments to restore and protect forest and riparian ecosystems, wildlife habitat and cultural resources.
Forest and watershed restoration treatments on the 110,000-acre project area within the boundaries of the SFNF include mechanical thinning, prescribed fire, meadow and stream rehabilitation, road decommissioning and archaeological site protection.