WILLIAMS — The Kaibab National Forest recently released for public review the final environmental impact statement and draft record of decision for the Bill Williams Mountain Restoration Project, which will treat approximately 15,200 acres on and surrounding the mountain near Williams, Ariz., in order to reduce wildfire risk and improve forest health and watershed conditions.
The documents, background information, maps and other associated materials are available on the forest website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=34690. People who previously submitted comments on the project can file objections through Oct. 30.
The draft record of decision selects an alternative that includes the following:
- Commercial and non-commercial treatments on approximately 15,200 acres, with follow-up post-mechanical treatments on activity slash. In response to comments, cable logging is no longer included as a harvesting method option. Further, in response to comments, the inclusion of steep-slope ground-based logging equipment as a harvesting method option allows for a more economically viable project.
- Rehabilitation of areas impacted by treatments, including aspen protection.
- Strategic fuel treatments designed to enhance fire control lines.
- Prescribed fire application to approximately 15,200 acres using a combination of ground-based and aerial firing techniques. This includes maintenance burning over the next 40 years.
- Transportation system improvements, including 15 miles of new and 16 miles of temporary road construction, and obliteration of 23 miles of poorly-located existing roads. In response to comments, new forest system road construction was reduced by approximately 8 miles.
- Improvements to the non-motorized Bixler Trail and construction of a new trailhead parking area.
After the objection period, which goes through Oct. 30, a final record of decision will be issued. Implementation of the project is expected to begin in 2016.
“Treating Bill Williams Mountain is a high priority for me and for the other managers of Kaibab National Forest,” said Williams District Ranger Danelle D. Harrison. “We are anxious to begin this important work that will provide protection to the Williams community and its watershed.”