Forest Service seeks land management ideas

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MANCHESTER — The U.S. Forest Service will present its ideas for wildlife management projects for 71,000 acres surrounding the Somerset Reservoir during an open house on May 6 at 6 p.m. at the Stratton Mountain Resort.

The area of the project, known as the Somerset Integrated Resource Management Project, includes land in Dover, Glastenbury, Searsburg, Somerset, Stratton, Wilmington and Woodford, and small portions of Sunderland and Wardsboro.

According to the Forest Service, the goals of the project are to improve wildlife and fish habitat, enhance forest health, provide timber products, control non-native invasive plants, restore soil and water conditions, increase recreation and scenery viewing opportunities, improve the trail and road network, and protect or enhance heritage sites throughout the area.

The Forest Service will develop its proposed activities throughout the summer, with the goal of creating a final plan and accompanying environmental analysis in the fall.

Projects would be undertaken beginning in 2020, and continue over a five- to seven-year period, pending the completion of an environmental assessment.

National Forest land accounts for approximately 60 percent of the acreage. In addition, the Forest Service hopes to work with the owners of nonfederal lands on activities that would achieve common goals, and will provide the opportunity at the open house to speak with representatives of other state and federal agencies and non-governmental organizations who can talk about opportunities for managing private lands.

"The hallmark of the integrated resource project strategy is that project activities are developed with robust public collaboration that builds trust and creates partnerships in order to achieve common resource management objectives across ownership boundaries," according to the Forest Service.

The open house will begin with a brief introduction of the project by District Ranger David Francomb, and continue with an opportunity for the public to visit with Forest Service staff representing various resources.

In addition, maps and information will be made available at various resource tables. "We are looking forward to working with members of the community to help us manage multiple resources on the National Forest in the best way possible," Francomb said.

More information about the project can be found at www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=53706.

Francomb can be reached at 802-362-2307, ext. 7212, or at dfrancomb@fs.fed.us

— Journal staff

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