Comment on DEIS by Monday, February 13, 2012.
Email your comment (with "Vestal Project" in subject line) to:
*** Please take a few minutes and send an E-Comment ***
Forty comments will make this a major public controversy
subject to more in-depth review. See suggestions below.
The Vestal Project (shown in black outline on the map below) on the Hell Canyon Ranger District proposes to log and burn a huge 26,000-area near Custer, SD. The 43,516-acre Project Area contains 25,726 National Forest acres (60%). Of these federal acres, logging is proposed on 25,449 acres (99%), slash treatment on 24,290 acres (94%), and prescribed burning on 1,761 acres (7%).
The Project proposes to log virtually all (99%) of the federal forest acres within the Project Area, including in the Sylvan Peak, Calamity Peak, and Buckhorn Mountain areas of the proposed Okawita Paha National Monument and International Peace Park (shown in red outline and yellow shading on the map below).
This Project will be done under the "Healthy Forests" Act, which greatly expedites and simplifies the environmental analysis and public participation process. This is due to alleged need to reduce and preclude impacts from mountain pine beetles.
The Forest Service requested comments on the Draft EIS.
Please raise some of the following points:
1) The northeast portion of the Project Area (north of US Highway 16A and east of US Highway 16) should be analyzed under a separate EIS that explores designation of this area as part of the Okawita Paha National Monument.
2) This northeast portion of the Project Area contains critical habitat for the Bear and Needles mountain goat groups, and corridors for the sensitive pine marten, that must be protected, not logged or burned.
3) This northeast portion of the Project Area has been proposed for sacred landscape designation and management under the Okawita Paha National Monument; the proposed logging and burning would desecrate this sacred landscape.
4) Nearly 60% of the Project Area are to have wildlife (big game winter range) or recreation (Buckhorn Mountain limited motorized use area) objectives; logging every acre in these management areas will preclude attainment of these objectives.
5) There is a "mountain pine beetle epidemic occurring within the project area" already, calling the proposed actions into question; logging and burning under these conditions could intensify these insect outbreaks, rather than contain them. See Pine Beetles and Fire Hazard in the Black Hills for more information.
6) The Project relies on a presumedly valid Community Wildfire Protection Plan for Custer, SD, that may not have been properly adopted. Raise questions about whether there is in fact a valid CWPP underlying this project.
7) Large fires in the Black Hills tend to move from south to north, due to prevailing winds during severe fire weather conditions. The primary winds in Custer, SD, during July-August are east-west. Tell the Forest Service they need to stop focusing on pine beetle chimeras, and start collection systematic weather data for as many stations in the Black Hills as they can fund.
8) The DEIS fails to address the impacts to traditional spiritual uses of the sacred landscape of the Okawita Paha area, in violation of the CERCLA act.