Letter to the editor: Residents should review Swan Mountain project and provide feedback | SummitDaily.com

Letter to the editor: Residents should review Swan Mountain project and provide feedback

Wayne Haley

Dillon Ranger District’s Swan Mountain project includes significant trail work and stream restoration components. But at its heart, it’s still a large forest clear-cutting project between Summit Cove/Keystone Ranch and Tiger Road, which will drastically affect the visual quality of one of the most heavily used hiking and biking areas in the county.

The project proposes mechanical and hand cutting of large swaths of forest, opening a large corridor running from Summit Cove to Tiger Road. The results will be that most of the trail system in the Soda Creek drainage will have little to no tree cover left. Hay, Horseshoe Gulch and Blair Witch will be totally barren; Soda Creek will have just a couple of small areas left with trees; the west end of Red Trail will be almost totally barren as will the new Soda Mine Trail.

Would it not be possible to preserve some tree cover in places along each trail with a combination of thinning and removing dead trees from the forest floor? After all, National Forest Landscape Management Volume 2 states: “The American people are concerned about the quality of their visual environment. Because of this concern, it has become appropriate to establish the visual landscape as a basic resource, to be treated as an essential part of and receive equal consideration with the other basic resources of the land.” Yet the visual quality impacts of this project seem to have taken a back seat to other considerations.

Project details can be found at FS.USDA.gov/project/?project=60771. If you’re a user of this area, I urge you to take the time to review the proposal and provide written comments to the Dillon Ranger District by Dec 14. This is the public’s best chance to influence the scope and impact of this project.

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