Black Diamond Landscape Resiliency and Risk Reduction Project
With the Black Diamond Landscape Resiliency and Risk Reduction Project, the Forest Service proposes a suite of management tools to improve and maintain a resilient landscape, facilitate fire adapted communities, and improve wildfire response.
The first step of the Black Diamond project is getting public feedback on the types of treatments and the proposed strategies for mitigating risk to communities, wildlife, watersheds and other values at risk from high-severity wildfires. The project includes nearly 265,760 acres of land with 190,177 (71.5%) acres being National Forest System land, and the remaining 75,585 (28.5%) acres of the land comprising local, State or private ownership. Although treatments may be collaboratively implemented across ownership boundaries, the Forest Service’s proposal would only authorize activities on National Forest System lands.
Black Diamond will be a “condition based” management approach. In the analysis, specific conditions will be described that exist across the landscape and proposals for one or more actions that could be implemented under those conditions to reach a future desired condition. Our management actions are guided by existing management direction documents and will be grounded in science and public engagement. Site specific mitigations will usually be identified by individual projects that derive from the Black Diamond decision. These will be applied prior to implementation. This is different than smaller-scale projects done prior on the Canyon Lakes Ranger District.
Recognizing that many forest management projects take decades to complete, the project has built-in flexibility to allow individual projects to occur when and where they will have the most benefit, while ensuring the same level of environmental protection. In other words, you won’t see blobs on a map with specific proposed treatments. This “conditions-based” approach looks at a broader landscape and implements treatments that meet specific criteria described in the “proposed action.”
Working collaboratively to prepare for wildfires and minimize their impacts to shared values at risk fosters shared responsibility across the landscape. This project addresses the need to improve forest health and resilience and to create fire adapted communities. The public will have ongoing opportunities for specific input and feedback regarding proposed treatment types and strategies.
1) Improve/Maintain a Resilient Landscape
Promote forest conditions which replicate settings of fire adapted ecosystems that are informed by the historical range of variability, consider potential climate futures, and acknowledge community values and land management objectives.
Improve the diversity and resilience of vegetative communities at multiple scales, by increasing stand structure variability, and promoting species compositions that restore or reflect disturbance-driven landscapes and promote resilient watersheds.
Reduce the likelihood for total loss from wildfire events and overstory mortality during broadcast prescribed fire implementation in designated Old Growth, Old Growth Development, or stands showing characteristics of Old Growth.
2) Improve/Create/Facilitate Fire-Adapted Communities
Reduce hazardous fuels in areas adjacent or connected to high-risk resource values, and promote structure, composition, and fuels conditions that reflect moderate to high frequency, and low to mixed severity fire adapted ecosystems that would reduce the risk of impacts from catastrophic wildfire.
Engage communities, other agency partners, and stakeholders to collaboratively plan and implement vegetation and fuels management actions that recognize the connected landscape and resource values.
Promote planning and activities associated with Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPP) and encourage support to communities without plans to engage partners to develop them.
3) Improve Wildfire Response
Support the implementation of prescribed fire, and the efficacy and safety of wildfire management strategies, through strategic implementation of vegetation management practices.
Public Scoping (ended)
Public scoping took place September 6 – 20, 2022.
30-Day Comment Period (ended)
The 30-day comment period was held March 4 – April 4, 2023 and followed the scoping period when the Forest received initial input from those interested in the project. Project documents, including a preliminary Environmental Assessment, are available online.
45-Day Objection Period (ended)
During the 45-day objection period those who commented were able to review the response to comment and, if those were not satisfactory, could object to the draft decision. At the end of the objection period, the Forest Service has 45-days to address objections. A final decision could be signed as soon as fall 2023.
45 Day Objection Resolution Period (ends Sept. 20th, 2023)
Once the Reviewing Officer receives the objections, they are reviewed to determine if they contain the necessary information and if they provided specific written comments on the proposed project activities. Review periods may be extended up to 30 days. Prior to a written response by the Reviewing Officer, the Reviewing Officer or the objector may request to meet and discuss issues raised in the objection and attempt to resolve the objection. The Reviewing Officer has the discretion to determine whether adequate time remains in the review period to make a meeting with objectors practical, as well as the appropriate date, duration, agenda, and location for any meetings. At the end of the objection reviewing period, the Reviewing Officer will issue a written response to all accepted objections within a specified time frame. This document will provide a response to objection issues and the rationale for the response and will sometimes include instructions for the Responsible Official to consider before making a final project decision. If one or more objections are received and accepted/validated, the Responsible Official may not finalize a project decision until the Reviewing Officer has responded in writing to all objections and all concerns and instructions identified by the Reviewing Officer in the objection response have been addressed; the final decision must be consistent with the Reviewing Officer’s response to objections.
Public meetings took place in September of 2022 online and in-person. View a recording of the virtual meeting below. Future public meetings will be listed here. Stay tuned for more opportunities to meet with USFS staff and partners about this project.
U.S Forest Service website: https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=62591