BAKER CITY - Whitman Unit Ranger Dick Haines announced that the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Monument Fire Recovery project is available for public review. The Record of Decision was signed by Forest supervisor Karyn L. Wood March 11.

The Monument Fire area is located approximately nine miles southwest of Unity. The fire, which ignited in the summer of 2002, burned approximately 4,100 acres on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, including 628 acres of private land and over 20,000 acres on the Malheur National Forest.

The Malheur National Forest is issuing a separate environmental impact statement.

Based on the analysis and comments received, the Forest Supervisor selected Alternative 3, with modifications that respond to comments received about access, soil protection, and availability of firewood for public use.

The Whitman Unit prepared an errata sheet that captured changes to the draft document, such as wording changes and other clarifications. "The bulk of the clarifications occurred in responding to the comments," Ranger Haines added. Because of the lack of change to the draft document, the FEIS consists of the Record of Decision, the errata sheet, and the comments and responses appendix. The draft document is available on request, with a new cover to represent the FEIS.

Alternative 3 will implement recovery of the burned area through a number of actions:

• Salvage harvest by helicopter - 746 acres of the 1,500 forest acres burned.

• Salvage of dead and dying trees 12 inches in diameter and greater.

• Retain snags in the harvested units.

• Retain approximately seven snags per acre greater than 21 inches in diameter and 15 snags per acre between 12 inches and 20.9 inches diameter across the 1,500 acres.

• Remove approximately 8.7 million board feet, although this figure will be affected by deterioration since the 2002 fire.

• Rest the West Camp grazing unit of the Bullrun Allotment until riparian shrubs reach a height of 4.5 feet.

• Maintain the existing road closures generated through burned area emergency recovery efforts.

• Retain Road 1680400 open to the Malheur National Forest boundary for private land and permittee access and connectivity to the neighboring forest.

• Retain Road 1689 open from its junction with 1680400 to the point where the road leaves private property.

• The open road density would change from the existing 2.8 miles per square mile to 1.8 miles per square mile in Management Area 1.

• Defer other closures to roads that will be suited for helicopter landings until the public has had an opportunity to collect firewood from the landings through the summer of 2005.

There are other actions associated with implementing this alternative, including planting, creating a new trailhead for Hole-In-The-Ground Trail, and noxious weed treatment. Details are available at the Whitman Unit Office in Baker City.

The final EIS is available in the Baker County library, at the Whitman Unit office, 3165 10th Street, Baker City, OR 97814, or by request. For more information or to request a copy, please contact Roger LeMaster, project leader, at (541) 523-1904.

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