fuels reduction

Prescribed fire helps restore the forest and remove unhealthy woody fuel build-up on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, according to forest officials.

TWISP – An open house and “public sensing” meeting is planned Oct. 17 for landowners near the Twisp forest restoration project.

The 76,748-acre Twisp restoration project is about two miles west of the town of Twisp and about four miles southwest of Winthrop and is primarily on national forest land. Several parcels of privately owned property, state Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Bureau of Land Management land also are within the planning area

Methow Valley Ranger District of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest is in the earliest stages of preparing the project. As part of that work, the Forest Service wants to pursue agreements with adjacent landowners to increase fuel treatment acres under the federal Wyden Amendment.

The amendment authorizes the Forest Service to enter into cooperative agreements with willing private and non-profit entities, or federal, tribal, state or local governments, to benefit resources within watersheds on national forest system lands.

As part of the project, private landowners whose properties are adjacent to national forest lands along the 65-mile project boundary may be interested in participating in forest fuels reduction treatments for the protection, restoration and enhancement of fish and wildlife habitat and other resources, said a Forest Service announcement.

Treatments could reduce the risk from wildfire or other natural disaster where public safety could be threatened, the agency said.

“The increase in acres for under-burning would benefit all landowners in the Twisp project area by lowering fire intensities across a broader area in the event of a large-scale wildfire,” said Methow Valley District Ranger Chris Furr. “We’re interested in looking at property lines that could provide more favorable or suitable locations for fire line, such as ridgetops, existing roads, rocky areas or areas where the vegetation changes, to place more effective fire lines for prescribed burn activities.”

The open house and public sensing meeting is planned for 5:30-6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17, at the Methow Valley Community Center, 201 E. Methow Valley Highway, Twisp. Forest officials will share information about the Wyden Amendment and explore potential opportunities to join with private landowners who have been invited to the meeting.

The meeting is open to the public.

Methow Valley Ranger District is preparing to kick off the project in November when a 30-day public scoping period is scheduled.

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