The US Forest Service has released its draft Environmental Assessment report (EA) on the Albany South timbering project. The official 30 day Comment Period began on May 6.
The EA is a formidable document, nearly 300 pages in length and contains a description of the 5 different project alternatives under consideration. Several of the alternatives would involve extensive timbering (ranging from 397-965 acres) directly in the Kezar Lake Watershed. The entire project area is somewhat larger.
What you need to know.
Our KLWA Board of Trustees has been following this project since its inception and remains concerned about the risks of environmental impact to Great Brook, Beaver Brook and Kezar Lake. Trustee representatives have been involved in numerous meetings with U.S. Forest Service (USFS) over the past several years and continue to press our concerns related to this project.
Anticipating the release of the EA and the ensuring Comment Period, KLWA formed a task force to analyze the document and prepare a draft response. The Draft comments have been reviewed and approved by the full Board; and they have been submitted on your behalf to the USFS. The USFS is required by regulation to formally consider all responses that are received during the 30 day comment period.
The KLWA’s Comments, an Executive Summary and Inventory of Requests have now been posted to this website. We trust that you will find it to be informative and perhaps helpful in the shaping your own comments as well. At the same time we recognize that the opportunity to evaluate the EA and formulate a response is relatively short. For that reason we are including a set of Frequently Asked Questions that may be of help in developing a set of brief comments of your own, all of which would be valuable to KLWA and the USFS.
We will continue to provide updates at this website and through email notification when appropriate. We do not have email addresses for all Members and it would most helpful if you could update yours by sending a note to firstname.lastname@example.org
In the meantime, we encourage you to review the EA yourself which can be found at www.fs.usda.gov/projects/whitemountain/landmanagement/projects. Some guidance on reviewing that document follows in the FAQ’s. Specific questions or requests for further information can be directed to the USFS team leader Pat Nasta at 207-824-2813 or email at email@example.com.
Frequently Asked Questions – Albany South Project
The EA is at the US Forest Service Website (see link above). This link will take you to the Projects page. Scroll down to the section “Under Analysis” and find Albany South. Click it. This will take you to the Albany South Project page. About halfway down the page you will see the “Analysis” section. Under this you will see the EA and other related documents.
Comments received in the 30 day comment period must be considered by the USFS before releasing a Final Environmental Assessment. The Final Environmental Assessment will identify the Alternative chosen by the USFS and will incorporate any modifications that come as a result of this Comment process.
When the Final EA is released there is a period when individuals or organizations can submit a formal Objection to some aspect of the plan. This is a more narrowly constrained opportunity than the current Comment Period for two reasons. Only those who submit a Comment in the current Comment Period are eligible to file an Objection to the Final Document; and the only issues subject to Objection are those that have been previously raised in the Comment Period.
The KLWA Board will file comments on behalf of he organization, but it is always helpful to have individual comments as well. The USFS is required to consider all Comments filed in this 30 day period and it is always beneficial to confirm a sense of broadly based interest or concern for a project.
The EA addresses a broad range issues and KLWA has consistently expressed concern on a number of fronts. Some of the most important are :
- Impacts on water quality and water flow in streams, wetlands and vernal pools
- Impacts on native brook trout and spawning wild salmon
- Impacts on forest wildlife -animals, birds and insects
- Potential threat of erosion and sedimentation – amplified by more frequent rain events
- Disruption from new roads, bridges, landings and skid trails
- Disruption to the forest floor and vegetation
The KLWA has a good working relationship with the Forest Service. Some of our prior concerns have been addressed through plan modification during the project’s evolution. Today, we continue to press the Forest Service for broader buffers to streams, wetlands and vernal pools; a more complete inventory of resources (primarily water resources) in the proposed project areas; modification to certain harvesting techniques; modification to certain road configurations; and modification to structural approaches to stream crossings.
Albany South is potentially a very large project and so is the related documentation. A few ideas that may be helpful in getting a good sense of the EA’s content. Review the Table of Contents to get a sense of structure and areas of most interest:
Chapter One : review the Project Area and the Forest Service’s rationale for the project itself. The project and Forest Service Mission is tied directly at 2005 White Mountain Land and Resource Management Plan. Chapter One of the EA describes each of six criterion that drive Albany South Project. The Summary of Need for Action (p.20) may be helpful.
Chapter Two : Provides a good Summary of each of the five Project Alternatives. There is much detail, but a Summary is shown on p.53. It may be helpful to understand that the five Alternatives really condense to three meaningful groups. Alternative 1 is – No Action, Alternatives 2,4,5 all involve essentially the same harvest plan and areas. The differences are related to different approaches to truck routing . Alternative 3 involves about half the area of the other harvest plans.
Chapter Three : Provides the detailed Assessment of Environmental Impacts for each Major Alternative. This is a very dense section where the most practical advice would be to look for topical areas of greatest interest (See Table of Contents) and also look for summary sections when the details become overwhelming. You will quickly note that the differences between Alternatives 2,4,5 are often modest due to their common harvest acreage. This facilitates review to some extent.
Written comments must be submitted to Justin Preisendorfer, District Ranger and must include the name of the project . Comments can be submitted as follows:
- US Postal Service: mailed to Androscoggin Ranger District, White Mountain National Forest, 300 Glen Road, Gotham NH 03581
- Hand Delivered to Androscoggin Ranger District (Monday-Friday 8:00 am – $:30 pm)
- FAX (603) 466 – 2856
- Email to: comments-eastern-white -firstname.lastname@example.org
How Can I Help?
There are many projects that would benefit from your support and involvement. Help us sustain this wonderful environment for many generations to come. Give to KLWA so that we might reserve the watershed for children and grandchildren the same experiences that have been so meaningful to each of us. Volunteer and share your gifts with us.