Public input sought on Cienega FireScape in the Santa Rita Mountains

Public input sought on Cienega FireScape in the Santa Rita Mountains
Cienega Creek FireScape (Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Forest Service)

SONOITA, AZ (KOLD News 13) - The public is invited to attend a public meeting, which will be held for the Cienega Creek FireScape Project, according to a news release from the U.S. Forest Service.

The meeting is from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, April 15 at the Sonoita Elgin Fire Department, 3173 Highway 83, Sonoita, Arizona.

According to the news release the Coronado National Forest, Nogales Ranger District, is seeking comments on the preliminary Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Cienega Creek FireScape Project, located on the east side of the Santa Rita Mountains, primarily within the Cienega Creek Watershed, with a portion of the project in the Sonoita Creek Watershed.

The preliminary EA is available online for a 30-day public comment period (36 CFR 218.6(d)) on the project website at https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=51926 . Hard copies may also be reviewed at the Nogales Ranger District Office, 303 Old Tucson Road, Nogales, Arizona.

To follow direction and achieve desired conditions in the Forest’s Land and Resource Management Plan, the proposed action for Cienega FireScape would use a mix of fire and non-fire treatments to improve vegetation conditions in the Santa Rita Ecosystem Management Area. Treatments would restore ecosystem structure by reducing surface fuels, ladder fuels, and the density of trees and shrubs.

Anticipated treatments include wildland fire (planned and unplanned, with flexibility of managing naturally-ignited wildland fires for the protection and enhancement of Forest values), hand thinning, mechanical treatments, and herbicide application, in addition to targeted fuels removal through grazing and fuelwood permits. Projects would be implemented incrementally over a period of more than 20 years.

Specific written comments (36 CFR §218.2) on the proposed project will be accepted for 30 calendar days following publication of the legal notice in the Nogales International, the newspaper of record. Written comments may be submitted to Nogales Ranger District, Attn: Jim Copeland, District Ranger, 303 Old Tucson Road, Nogales, AZ 85621, or in person at the office, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., excluding federal holidays.

Electronic comments including attachments may be submitted using the Public Comment Form at https://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public/CommentInput?project=51926.

Comments should be within the scope of the proposed action, have a direct relationship to the proposed action, and must include supporting reasons for the Responsible Official to consider.

Respondents are asked to state “Cienega Creek FireScape Project” in the subject line when providing electronic comments, or on the envelope when submitting comments by mail.

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