Forest Service moves forward on Trail Gulch Project

Photo by John Waters The U.S. Forest Service is seeking public input on the Trail Gulch Vegetation Management Project that hopes to improve forest health in the 51,460-acre project area. Included in the proposed project, are riparian habitats along sections of the Conejos River as seen here.

LA JARA — The Conejos Peak Ranger District of the Rio Grande National Forest announced recently the availability of the draft decision notice and environmental assessment for the Trail Gulch Vegetation Management Project.

District Ranger Andrea Jones has documented her decision to move forward with the project in the draft decision legal notice published on Feb. 18. This action marks the start of a 45-day pre-decisional objection period when people can submit objections to the draft decision.

Electronic objections are preferred and must be submitted to the Objection Reviewing Officer online at US Forest Service NEPA Projects Home (, with “Trail Gulch Vegetation Management Project Objection” in the subject line. Electronic submissions must be submitted in a format that is readable with optical character recognition software (e.g., Word, PDF, Rich Text) and be searchable. An automated response should confirm that the electronic objection was received.

Objections can be faxed to the Objection Reviewing Officer at 713-852-6250. The fax cover sheet must include a subject line with “OBJECTION: Trail Gulch Vegetation Management Project” and should specify the number of pages being submitted.

Written objections may be submitted via regular mail to: Rio Grande National Forest, 1803 W. Highway 160, Monte Vista, CO 81144.

Objections sent by private carrier or hand delivery must be addressed to: Objection Reviewing Officer, Rio Grande National Forest, Attn: Reviewing Officer, 1803 W. Highway 160, Monte Vista, CO 81144.

The proposed action includes a mix of vegetation treatment strategies including hand and mechanical thinning, pile and broadcast prescribed burning, and timber harvesting. Implementation is expected to begin as soon as possible. The actions are designed to improve overall forest health and return fire as a landscape-scale management tool.

The Conejos Peak Ranger District expressed great appreciation for the staff, partners, and stakeholders all working together to reach this important milestone.

“Reaching this draft decision point is an exciting and important step for the Forest and the communities and ecosystems affected by this project,” said Conejos Peak District Ranger Andrea Jones. “I look forward to taking this process to a final decision so we can begin planning the implementation steps.”

The project is located approximately 10 miles west of Antonito along and south of State Highway 17, entirely in Conejos County.

To view information on the Trail Gulch Project, visit the official project webpage at Another informational webpage on the project can be found online at People can also call the Conejos Peak Ranger District office at 719-657-3321.

For information on the Rio Grande National Forest, call 719-852-5941.