A public comment period began June 8 for the Hermosa Creek Watershed Management Environmental Assessment, which lays out the proposed uses of the recently designated wilderness and special-management areas north of Durango.
The Hermosa Creek Watershed is the result of a regional grass-roots movement, which began in 2006 with a diverse range of public-land users, to find a balanced approach to protecting the land.
The Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection legislation was signed into law by former President Barack Obama in 2014, setting aside 37,400 acres as a wilderness area and 70,600 acres as a special-management area.
On Thursday, the U.S. Forest Service’s Columbine Ranger District released the Hermosa Creek Watershed Management Environmental Assessment, a management plan the agency was required to draft within three years of the act being signed into law.
The legislation allows a range of uses, including motorized and mechanized vehicles, over-snow vehicles, grazing as well as areas for foot/horse travel only.
Prohibited in the act is road construction in certain areas, commercial timber harvest with some exceptions and disposal of land, mining patents and mineral leases.
“The EA includes alternatives for overarching long-term Forest Plan-level guidance, and alternatives for specific project-level recreation and travel-management decisions,” the Forest Service said in a news release.
The public comment period lasts 30 days. A public meeting will be held 6 p.m. June 22 at the San Juan Public Lands Center, 15 Burnett Court.
Written comments can be submitted via email at: HermosaSMA@fs.fed.us or firstname.lastname@example.org, or online through the interactive map website.
Comments may also be sent by U.S. mail, other delivery service or hand-delivery to: Columbine Ranger District, Hermosa Comments, P.O. Box 439, 367 Pearl St., Bayfield CO, 81122.