>The public is being given an opportunity to comment on the planned thinning and fencing project
A project that includes thinning, slash disposal and fencing in four aspen stands located in the Big Summit Ranger District is being proposed by the Forest Service. Anyone wishing to comment on the project has until Dec. 31 to do so.
   The stated purpose of thinning ponderosa pine and Douglas fire trees in the project areas is to reduce shading and moisture competition. The targeted trees to be thinned would be up to 21 inches in diameter. The fencing activities included in the project are needed to protect aspen sprouts from browsing pressure. Fencing would be removed when aspen sprouting is about 8-feet tall and out of reach of herbivores.
   The four areas are:
   4215-050 Stand - The stand is located at the junction of roads 4215-050 and 4230, about 40 miles east of Prineville, 15 miles east of the Ochoco Ranger Station. Trees in this stand to be thinned would be felled, bucked and left in place for down wood values. After thinning, the stand would be fenced with an 8-foot tall big-game fence, to exclude all herbivores from the site. Some selected aspen trees may be felled or topped to initiate sprouting. The fence should be monitored and maintained annually. The stand covers about three acres.
   Independent Mine Stand - This stand is located approximately one-quarter mile above the Independent Mine, immediately to the east and west of Forest Road 4205. There are several small aspen stands in this area that would be thinned throughout in a 15 to 20 acre area. Slash would be bucked and scattered. Several 8-foot tall big-game fences would be constructed around individual aspen stands and would be monitored and maintained annually.
   Cold Springs Stand - This stand is along the 050 road on the way into Cold Springs guard station. the aspen stand covers several acres, and after thinning, slash would be bucked and scattered. This stand would not be fenced because traffic and recreational use in the area discourages browsing.
   Dudley Creek Stand - A 10-acre stand off the 050 road; after thinning, slash would be bucked and scattered. The stand would then be fenced and the fence would be monitored and maintained annually.
   District Ranger Art Currier, in announcing this project, said unless public comment reveals issues, the decision to proceed will be made. "At this time I believe that the analysis for these activities can be excluded from documentation in an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement. If public comment does not reveal issues that lead to alternative development, I will proceed with issuing decision memos."
   Comments on the proposed aspen thinning projects, or alternatives, should be received on or before Dec. 31 and can be addressed to the project leaders at the Ochoco Ranger Station, P.O. Box 490, Prineville, OR 97754. For more information, contact either Mike Simpson or Bob Lightley at 416-6500.
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