Alternatives Being Considered for the 4FRI Rim Country Project
This is the no action alternative required by NEPA. It represents no changes to current management, and the forest plans would continue to be implemented. Ongoing vegetation treatments and fire management activities, as well as road maintenance, recreation, firewood gathering, authorized livestock grazing, and other activities already authorized in separate NEPA decisions would continue. There would be no other restoration activities approved with the Rim Country Project. The no action alternative is the baseline for assessing the action alternatives.
Proposed Action (Modified)
This is the Proposed Action as presented for scoping, with additional detail, clarifications, corrections, and modifications in response to public comments received during the scoping period. This alternative will address the Economics, Wildlife and Aquatics Habitat, Treatments in MSO and Goshawk Habitat, Large Tree Retention, and Dwarf Mistletoe Mitigation issues.
This alternative will be designed to increase mechanical and fire treatments in order to maximize functional restoration across the Rim Country project area. Treatments will be designed to treat more acres to lower the basal area, and move farther and faster toward the desired conditions in the Apache-Sitgreaves, Coconino, and Tonto Forest Plans. Alternative 3 is being drafted to address the Economics, Large Tree Retention, and Dwarf Mistletoe Mitigation issues.
This alternative will be designed to determine where treatments can be optimized in areas most in need of treatment due to being most highly departed from the natural range of variation (NRV) of ecological conditions, or in areas that may put communities at risk from undesirable fire effects. Areas selected to treat will be those that can be moved the furthest toward desired conditions and be treated cost-effectively, optimizing both ecological restoration and economics, and resulting in fewer acres being treated. Alternative 4 is being drafted to address the Smoke/Air Quality, Economics, and Roads issues.
Issues for 4FRI Rim Country
1. Smoke/Air Quality
There will be negative effects on air quality and human health from prescribed burning.
The Rim Country Project needs to increase and broaden attention to socioeconomics, and include consideration of measures to facilitate implementation, and biomass utilization and disposal.
3. Wildlife Habitat
There is a need for additional wildlife habitat improvements to fully meet the purpose and need for the Rim Country Project.
4. Aquatics Habitat
There is a need for additional stream habitat improvements to fully meet the purpose and need for the Rim Country Project.
There will be negative effects on watersheds, streams, and wildlife from the amount of temporary roads proposed for implementation.
6. Full Restoration
There is a need to consider in detail a comprehensive landscape restoration alternative, analyzing returning the project area to historic reference conditions.
7. Treatments in MSO PACs
There will be negative effects on MSO from the treatments proposed in MSO PACs.
8. Treatments in Goshawk Habitat
There will be negative effects on goshawks from the proposed treatments in goshawk habitat.
9. Large Tree Retention
There is a need to consider in detail large tree retention strategies in proposed treatments.
10. Dwarf Mistletoe Mitigation
There is a need to clearly define the scale and intensity of mistletoe treatments. There is a concern that mistletoe treatments are not needed to improve and restore forest and ecosystem health, and that they will be an excuse to remove the largest trees.