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Old Baldy, Canada | photo by Cameron Schaus
Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | monterey county

Chapter Submits Comments on US Forest Service Fire Clearance Proposals in Wilderness

February 2013

The Chapter, working with other groups has submitted comments on the US Forest Service notice of intent (NOI) to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) associated with the proposed Strategic Community Fuelbreak Improvement Project.

Above the South Fork Little SurAbove the South Fork Little Sur. Photo by Mike Splain.

We are concerned that the Proposed Action states that the construction of wilderness portions of the fuelbreaks would utilize motorized equipment (chain saws). A determination of the need for administrative action and the appropriate minimum tool or activity is dependent upon the findings of a Minimum Requirements Analysis (MRA) according to the Wilderness Act of 1964. Until an MRA is completed, it appears premature to select chain saws as the minimum tool.

Specific areas at issue include the proposal to establish a 2.8 mile long fuelbreak on the historic fireline atop Skinner Ridge which may impact the Ventana Wilderness boundary area and negatively impact wilderness character and values. Also, we request that the northern approximately 1.2 miles of the historic fireline between Peak 3342 and the South Fork of the Little Sur River which features very steep topography be reconstructed with hand tools and not bulldozers.

Many Sierra Club members and our partners have attended Fire Management workshops and believe that wilderness values can be maintained and coexist with safe fire suppression methods. Other groups on the sign on letter include Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), California Wilderness Project, Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics, and Ecology (FUSEE) and California Wilderness Coalition. To view our letter to the US Forest Service regarding the NOI, please click on the attached PDF.

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