The U.S. Forest Service announced its final decision Monday to log 1,600 acres of national forest in the upper Fryingpan valley. Some areas have been removed from the project after public objections.
The project is meant to supply wood to local mills and biomass plants. It has seen strong opposition from neighbors, environmental groups and local government.
The Forest Service received 12 formal letters of opposition, and District Ranger Karen Schroyer said the Forest Service worked collaboratively with those groups to address many of their concerns in this final decision.
"We think that, because of that dialogue, we do have a better final decision," she said.
Schroyer removed 128 acres from the logging project in response to an objection filed by Wilderness Workshop. Will Roush, conservation director for Wilderness Workshop, said while that is beneficial, it doesn't go far enough.
"Our biggest concern was that the Forest Service would be paying for stands of healthy, diverse aspen stands to be cut and chipped and then sent to a biomass plant to be burnt," Roush said in a statement. "In our objection, we asked the Forest Service to remove five units of healthy multi-aged aspen and are glad to see that three were removed, but disappointed the project will still cut aspen stands that are fulfilling an important ecological role.”
In response to concerns from the Town of Basalt over heavy traffic on Fryingpan Road, contractors will only be able to haul timber through Basalt for two years.
Seven objections still stand, including from homeowners who say it’s not appropriate to log in this valley at all.
The Forest Service will put the contract out for bid this year, with work likely starting in the summer of 2019.