Butler Hollow comment period extended

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The U.S. Forest Service's Ava/Cassville/Willow Springs Ranger District (ACWRD) will extend the period for public comments on its proposal for deforestation of more than 18,000 acres of the Mark Twain National Forest.

The district also will host an "open house" regarding the proposal on Jan. 27 in Cassville, Mo.

The announcement follows "considerable public interest" that was generated after the district published a legal notice in the Springfield News-Leader on Nov. 18 seeking public comments on the proposal.

The project's goals, as described in a summary released by the ACWRD, include improving the health of the forest's ecosystem and providing recreational opportunities.

Another goal listed in the summary is to "use timber management, where appropriate, to restore or enhance degraded natural communities, sustain healthy and productive forests and reduce hazardous fuels. Provide timber and wood products to help support sustainable local industry and economic interests."

To accomplish those goals, the ACWRD proposes a variety of actions, including "a combination of commercial harvest, non-commercial treatments, prescribed fire and herbicide treatment of stumps."

The proposal calls for prescribed burning on approximately 17,517 acres, including 1,760 acres of private land.

"Prescribed burning is essential to the maintenance of glade and open woodland communities," the summary states.

Although all of the land affected by the proposal is located in Missouri, the summary acknowledges that project area land is drained by tributaries of the White River that are part of the Beaver Reservoir Watershed, which includes Beaver Lake in Arkansas as well as Table Rock Lake in Missouri.

Beaver Lake, which is located in Benton, Carroll and Washington counties, is the source of drinking water for more than 400,000 Arkansans.

"Based on the comments received and continued interest in this project, District Ranger Joe Koloski has decided to extend the Butler Hollow Project comment period and to host an open house to provide additional opportunity for public participation," the ACWRD said in a news release Monday.

Additional comments on the project will be accepted for 12 days from Jan. 26 to Feb. 6. The open house is scheduled from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, January 27 at the Show-Me Plaza, 404 State Highway 248, Suite 8, in Cassville, Mo.

Comments received during the extended comment period and at the open house become part of the public record. Written comments can be submitted to District Ranger, Ava/Cassville/Willow Springs Ranger District, Rt. 6, Box 614110, Ava, Missouri 65608. Fax comments to (417) 683-5722 or e-mail to comments-eastern-mark-twain-ava@fs.fed.us (subject line: Butler Hollow Project Comments). Electronic comments must be submitted in a format such as an email message, plain text (.txt), rich text format (.rtf), Adobe (.pdf) or Word (.doc).

Only those who submit timely "specific written comments" during any designated opportunity for public participation, including this 12-day extension to the comment period, will be eligible to file an objection based on the final analysis and a draft decision document.

Information about the project and others on the Mark Twain National Forest can be found at: http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/mtnf/projects.

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