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Columbine Ranger District invites comment on proposed ecological and recreation project

Plans would involve work on a 7,100-acre area just north of Durango
The period to submit public comments to the Columbine Ranger District on the proposed restoration plans closes Friday. (Shannon Mullane/Durango Herald file)

The Columbine Ranger District of the San Juan National Forest is inviting the public to comment on a proposed resource management plan that would involve prescribed burns, vegetation thinning, development of mountain bike trails and stream bank rehabilitation, among a variety of recreation and ecological improvements.

The project would take place within 7,100 acres in three contiguous geographic areas: Junction Creek Road/Logchutes Uplands, Colorado Trail/Junction Creek Riparian Corridor, and Falls Creek/Hidden Valley.

The Junction-Falls Integrated Resource Management project, as the proposal has been named, will be funded by the Rocky Mountain Restoration Initiative, a partnership between the Forest Service and the National Wild Turkey Federation born in 2019. Scott Owen, a spokesman for the national forest, said the project is expected to be implemented over the next several years but the cost is currently unknown.

RMRI has four core values that inform the projects it selects: communities, clean water, forests and wildlife, and recreation. Each of the proposed actions relates to a need tied to one of those values.

The proposal includes plans to expand the parking lots at the Junction Creek Trailhead to accommodate 34 cars, a new toilet for the lower lot and make the first 1.12 miles of the trail Americans with Disabilities Act accessible.

The USFS has received seven comments on the project so far. All of the comments received so far offer support for the project, request other specific desired changes, provide recommendations for the implementation of the plans or some combination of the three. The public comment period, which opened Sept. 13, closes on Friday. Comments can be viewed or submitted on the USFS webpage for the project.


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