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Thursday, June 8, 2023

Jackson Mountain Landscape Project: Gravel pit, trails halted

By Lorena Williams | U.S. Forest Service 

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 multiuse 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 noncommercial 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 https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=61809. 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 paul.blackman@usda.gov.

• Vegetation/fuels management — Adam Tlachac, (970) 264-1513 or adam.tlachac@usda.gov.

For information on current conditions and recreation opportunities on the San Juan National Forest, call (970) 247-4874 or visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/sanjuan/.

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