LARAMIE – The Medicine Bow National Forest on Thursday released its final Record of Decision and supporting documents for the Medicine Bow Landscape Vegetation Analysis project, known as LaVA.

The documents provide an environmental foundation to improve forest conditions using a wide range of tools on a maximum of 288,000 acres, spread over a 15-year period, beginning in 2020.

The final decision is within the range of alternatives analyzed in the April modified final Environmental Impact Statement and has been modified from its draft version as a result of the recent public objection resolution process, according to a news release. Multiple adjustments were made, the most notable of which was exclusion of inventoried roadless areas from the selected alternative. This removes roughly 123,000 acres, or 20% of the land base, from the project decision.

The modified draft Record of Decision and final Environmental Impact Statement were released on April 10. A 30-day objection period and subsequent 30-day objection resolution period immediately followed the release. On June 2, a virtual objection resolution meeting was held between multiple objectors, the Reviewing Officer, the Responsible Official and agency staff for the purposes of clarifying objection issues and discussing potential resolutions. This meeting culminated in a set of changes which address a broad range of resource management and public use concerns and were developed to strengthen the final decision.

The landscape scale project, developed by the Forest Service, along with multiple cooperating agencies, seeks to authorize flexible management of forest vegetation in a timely manner. It will allow removal and utilization of beetle-killed timber while still marketable and will reduce the risk of wildfire near communities, according to the release. It will accelerate the pace and scale of active forest restoration using a wide range of tools, including tree thinning, harvest and hazard tree removal, as well as prescribed burning in the Sierra Madre and Snowy Ranges. In some instances, cooperating agencies have planned their own program of work accounting for a LaVA Project decision.

Project information, including the final Record of Decision and supporting documents, is available on the Forest Service website at www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=51255. For more information, contact District Ranger Frank Romero at 307-745-2337 or frank.e.romero@usda.gov.

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