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Fri, Jan. 24

Kaibab approves plan to reduce forest density

The Kaibab National Forest has approved the Jacob-Ryan Vegetation Management Project on the North Kaibab Ranger District.

The project calls for prescribed burning and thinning in approximately 25,300 acres of ponderosa pine forest atop the Kaibab Plateau. Work could take place over the next seven to 10 years.

The project promotes forest health and a sustainable ecosystem by making the area more resilient to a catastrophic wildfire, and thinning trees stands to benefit wildlife and stand regeneration, Forest Service officials said.

"This project is based on the best available science and the forest plan with the goal of restoring a healthy ponderosa pine forest," North Kaibab District Ranger Timothy Short said. "This includes preventing catastrophic wildfires such as the 2006 Warm Fire on this district or those that occurred in eastern Arizona last year."

The project bases its thinning prescriptions on recommendations by the leading experts on northern goshawk and their habitat needs, while following the standards and guidelines required by the Kaibab National Forest Land Management Plan, officials said.

The project decision is the culmination of more than a decade of work by forest staff.

The Jacob-Ryan project has been revised several times because of controversy over the size of trees to be thinned.

While the project does not contain an arbitrary size limit for trees to be cut, forest managers said large trees would be removed only when necessary to promote restoration goals.

This decision is subject to a 45-day appeal period for people who previously submitted comments.

Forest managers hope to begin implementation of the project this spring.

The decision notice and planning documents for this project can be found on the Kaibab National Forest website. For more information, contact Public Affairs Specialist Patrick Lair at (928) 643-8172.

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