Public comments sought on Somerset Reservoir project

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MANCHESTER — The U.S. Forest Service is seeking public comments for the Somerset Integrated Resource Project Environmental Assessment. The proposed project is located on the Manchester Ranger District of the Green Mountain National Forest near the Somerset Reservoir. The project area consists of over 71,000 acres primarily in the towns of Dover, Glastenbury, Searsburg, Somerset, Stratton, Wilmington and Woodford, and also includes small portions of Sunderland and Wardsboro within Bennington and Windham counties.

Included in the proposal are activities to improve wildlife and fish habitat, restore soil and water conditions, increase recreation and scenery viewing opportunities, and improve the trail and road network. The proposal also includes the harvesting of timber to provide wood products to the local and regional economy, enhance forest health and diversity, and create more diverse plant and wildlife habitat.

Written comments will be accepted during a 30-day public comment period ending March 16. This comment period is the second and last opportunity for public comment that will provide objection standing prior to a final decision for the project. The first formal opportunity for public input was during a 30-day comment period in April 2019. Many of the comments received during this initial period were the basis for the analysis included in the environmental assessment.

The Somerset project environmental assessment, associated maps and direction on how to submit comments can be found on the project website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=53706

The Somerset project environmental assessment is the culmination of over three years of field inventory and public involvement conducted by Forest Service staff. The project is designed to move the forest landscape toward desired resource conditions on National Forest System lands within the project area and provide goods and services to the public.

Comments received from the public will be used to identify possible gaps in the environmental assessment in need of additional analysis. A final environmental assessment is scheduled to be complete by early May followed by the issuance of a draft decision notice. A 45-day objection period for the draft decision notice will be provided to those who have objection standing. A final decision is anticipated by early summer.

For more information about the Somerset Integrated Resource Project Environmental Assessment and guidance on submitting comments, contact Jay Strand at 802-767-4261 x5522 or email at jay.strand@usda.gov.

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