PRINEVILLE - The Prineville District of the Bureau of Land Management is looking at different management options for the public lands that surround Little Canyon Mountain, the agency announced. The BLM manages approximately 2,000 acres of forest land located between the city limits of Canyon City to the north, Little Pine Creek to the east, Canyon Creek to the west and the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness to the south.

Initial public feedback, provided by a local grassroots citizen group, described several key issues in the Little Canyon Mountain area, including forest stand conditions and susceptibility to fire, road access, off-road vehicle use and illegal garbage dumping. A team of specialists will consider these initial comments as they collect data and analyze current conditions in several areas, including fire/fuels, forestry, soils, hydrology, fisheries, geology/minerals, recreation, wildlife, botany and archaeology.

The primary objective behind conducting the environmental assessment is to reduce fuel loads and fire hazard, increase defensible space in the urban interface and maintain a healthy forest ecosystem, BLM reported.

A final EA is expected to be released by the end of November followed by a 30-day public comment period. The BLM will consider all comments and release a decision shortly thereafter.

The project's Internet Web site will host biweekly updates, progress reports, issues and concerns at www.or.blm.gov/Prineville/LCM/home/htm. A dedicated e-mail address - LCM@or.blm.gov - is available to receive public comments at any time during the assessment. A formalized public comment period will occur upon release of the document. The earlier comments are received, the better to assist the planning team with their evaluation.

A small piece of the project that targets fuels reduction near existing homes and structures is already under way. As soon as fire precaution levels are lifted, a pre-commercial thinning of smaller diameter trees on approximately 70 acres will be completed. This is expected to occur sometime in September. For more information, contact Brent Ralston at the Prineville Bureau of Land Management at 416-6713.

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