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Oregon Caves seeks fire management comments

Public comments are being requested by the National Park Service on a project to update the Oregon Caves National Monument & Preserve Fire Management Plan.

According to an Oregon Caves press release, the updated plan will “conform with current Park Service policy, identify and prioritize mechanical and prescribed fire treatments, and promote a fire management strategy based on natural ecological processes and conditions characteristic of park ecosystems.”

To comply with National Environmental Policy Act and Park Service policy, the proposed updated plan will be evaluated through an Environmental Assessment.

The release said the plan will “identify issues and concerns and present a reasonable range of management alternatives for public review.” In addition, the plan will “analyze the environmental consequences of each of the alternatives, and can be used to identify a preferred alternative, which will then become the final plan.

At the end of the EA process, the NPS anticipates issuing a Finding of No Significant Impact, which is the document that finalizes the decision.

The initial three alternatives to be considered in the EA include:

1. No action, fire management would include ongoing wildland fire suppression.

2. Fire management that would include wildland fire suppression, manual fuels reduction, pile burning and broadcast prescribed fire.

3. Fire management and forest resiliency treatments that would include wildland fire suppression; manual and mechanical fuels reduction; pile and broadcast prescribed fire; mechanical fuels reduction (potentially involving masticators, processors, forwarders, feller bunchers skidders, and other equipment).

As a first step, the Park Service will hold a public Zoom meeting to explain the project’s background, describe potential alternatives, and answer audience questions.

The online meeting will be hosted by the Illinois Valley Chamber of Commerce between 2 and 4 p.m. April 5. Access instructions for the Zoom meeting will be posted on the Park Service’s Planning Environment and Public Comment website at parkplanning.nps.gov/ORCA-FMP-2022.

The website can also be used to enter comments regarding the proposed plan update.

Public comments are being taken through April 15. Park Service officials said comments submitted through the project website are preferred, but comments can also be mailed to: Oregon Caves National Monument & Preserve, Attn: Fire Management Plan Update, 19000 Caves Hwy, Cave Junction, OR 97523. Comments submitted by mail should be postmarked no later than April 15.

For assistance in submitting comments, contact park staff by email at orca_superintendent@nps.gov, or call 541-592-2100, extension 2221.

Reach freelance writer Lee Juillerat at 337lee337@charter.net or 541-880-4139.