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Comments sought for North Big Bear restoration project

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September 03, 2020 02:25PM
Officials with San Bernardino National Forest are seeking comments from the public by October 5, 2020, for a proposal to restore the landscape within an approximately 13,000-acre area north of Big Bear Lake.

Fire, which is natural to the ecosystem and caused by lightning, has been largely excluded from the landscape, resulting in a concentrated buildup of vegetation that is no longer sustainable. This project seeks to return fire to the area and restore riparian features to encourage proper hydrologic functions in local meadows and streams. The proposal also seeks to improve recreation opportunities and address numerous user-created and erosion-causing trails by closing them and building a sustainable trail network of approximately 50 miles. Within the project area there are multiple motor vehicle routes, which have created a level of redundancy that is no longer sustainable or needed. The project intends to consolidate and decommission as many routes as possible.

"We're approaching this project by looking at the landscape as a whole," said Mountaintop District Ranger Marc Stamer. "That runs the gamut from restoring ecosystem functions to managing the high demand for recreation in the area."

The nearly 13,000 project footprint includes approximately 8,000 acres of yellow pine and black oak stands, which naturally had a fire frequency of 5-20 years, as well as approximately 3,000 acres of pinyon and juniper trees, which naturally had a fire frequency of 300-500 years. If the project moves forward, there may be some opportunities for first-entry prescribed fire as early as winter or spring 2021.

Three meadow complexes and numerous pebble plains are also found within the area. Pebble plains are a rare habitat only found in the San Bernardino Mountains where unique clay soils support a diverse relic plant community. Activities would include making sure trees do not encroach on the plains and meadows. Additionally, project work will avoid and minimize impacts to several threatened, endangered and sensitive plant and animal species, some that exist in the plains. Returning fire to the landscape will benefit them in the long term.

The project would also limit the damage or destruction from historic features of the area, including Native American sites and Holcomb Valley as a whole, which is designated as a historic landmark by the state of California for its gold mining history.

Public comments are being requested to help identify key issues with the proposal, mitigation measures and needed analyzed effects of this proposed action. Forest managers are asking the public to be as specific as possible.

Project documents are available at https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=58467, where interested parties can also make comments under the "Get Connected" box.

Paper copies of project documents are available upon request by contacting Christina Barba at christina.j.barba@usda.gov. Use “North Big Bear Restoration Project" in the email's subject line.

If you are unable to send comments electronically, you may send them by mail to:

Mountaintop Ranger District
Attention: Christina Barba
P.O. Box 290
Fawnskin, CA 92333

Comments sought for North Big Bear restoration project

Rick1427September 03, 2020 02:25PM

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