Durango Telegraph - Resolution on Animas? BLM takes ?careful? approach to controversial project
Resolution on Animas? BLM takes ?careful? approach to controversial project

The storm could be breaking on Animas Mountain. A controversial project to log the popular recreation area appears to be approaching a mutually agreeable end.

Animas Mountain is on the Bureau of Land Management’s short list of treed areas being aggressively treated to curb the risk of wildfire. However, a plan to mitigate wildfire hazards on Animas Mountain drew widespread opposition after it was announced a year ago.

The BLM’s original plan entailed treating 800 acres of gambel oak, piñon, juniper and small-diameter ponderosa pine with hydromowing. That would have required reconstruction of an old road to provide access for forestry equipment. Like in Log Chutes, that old road is now a trail and makes up approximately half of the greater Animas Mountain loop. Potential damage to the recreational and natural resources immediately incited strong public reactions. Last sum

mer, the BLM received comments from more than 60 individuals and organizations advocating for the more expensive hand-thinning and encouraging it to tread carefully on Animas Mountain. The BLM heard the public concerns and went back to the drawing board early last fall. Now, the agency is working on the final edits to the Draft Environmental Analysis for the Animas City Mountain Fuels Project.  The draft looks hopeful.

“The Animas Mountain project looks

like it’s going to be done in a much more careful and thoughtful way that should not impede the trail system,” said Mary Monroe, executive director of Trails 2000. “I think it’s great that they appear to have taken the public’s concerns to heart.”

Craig Goodell, the project’s coordinator, has not set a firm date for the document’s release, but said, “We should be getting the draft document out for public review soon.”

– Will Sands