Great THANKS to the many people that objected and helped fight against the mine proposed on Jackson Mountain! The USDA / USFS issued statements this week that pause components of the "Jackson Mountain Landscape" project, including the mine. While the mine pause / halt is near to our objective (permanent cancellation preferred), the suspension of the mountain bike trail system is disappointing to us and many local residents. Unlike the mine, the trail system was well-planned, had much public awareness and input over the past several years, and had support and involvement from numerous cycling advocacy groups (IMBA, i.e.). The front page article in the April 20th issue of the Pagosa SUN details the USFS decision and possible next steps, and a well-written "Guest Op-Ed" by Josh Peck, District Ranger, USFS Pagosa District, expands upon their decision reasoning, including large game migration corridor concerns. NOTE: The USFS and Archuleta County need gravel! While the JML mine component is "halted", it does not mean it cannot be resurrected, so we'll keep a sharp eye on the described next steps by the USFS and Archuleta County!
I encourage you to read Ranger Peck's Op-Ed, as he details much of their process in their decision. In addition, here is the official statement from the USFS:
Jackson Mountain Landscape Project Proposal Under Revision
Some proposed project components halted following scoping period
PAGOSA SPRINGS, Colo., April 17, 2023 —The San Juan National Forest Pagosa Ranger District recently completed the scoping phase of the Jackson Mountain Landscape Project. Numerous comments were received during this process, primarily relating to the proposed gravel pit and recreational trail system. After a thorough review of public, agency, and internal comments, the district has decided not to move forward with consideration of the gravel pit or trail system as part of the environmental analysis for the Jackson Mountain project.
“Concerns over the probable impacts of a trail system on an important big game migration corridor have led me to conclude that we would be in error in proceeding with the analysis of the trail proposal as currently envisioned,” said District Ranger Josh Peck. “Similarly, I believe that we, in conjunction with the County and other partners, need to take a more thorough and wholistic look at potential opportunities for gravel pit development throughout the county prior to further consideration of the Jackson Mountain pit to ensure that this site best meets the needs of the community and that the potential impacts of any site are manageable.”
The original project proposal included the creation of a sustainably designed trail system with up to 40 miles of mountain bike and multi-use trail options and the reconstruction and expansion of the existing Turkey Creek Trailhead. Additional parking areas, trailheads, toilets, and signage were also being considered. Archuleta County had also expressed interest in opening a non-commercial gravel pit in the Jackson Mountain area to provide a local source of material for use on county and Forest Service Roads.
The Pagosa Ranger District is moving forward with the environmental analysis for the fuels reduction and vegetation management activities being considered, which include thinning, mastication, and tree removal. These activities are intended to help improve forest health and resiliency, reduce fuels, and regenerate aspen stands currently in decline. The public will be notified via news release of additional opportunities to comment on the fuels and vegetation management components.
To view the project record, read public comments, view maps, or find other information, visit the project website. An Interactive StoryMap is available as well, showing the location of the areas being considered for fuels and vegetation management.
For more information about this proposal, please contact the following: • Recreation – Paul Blackman, (970) 264-1505, or firstname.lastname@example.org • Veg/Fuels Management – Adam Tlachac, (970) 264-1513, or email@example.com
For information on current conditions and recreation opportunities on the San Juan National Forest, call (970) 247-4874, visit the forest website, or follow us on social media (Twitter and Facebook)
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