FOMP Monument Preserve Fire Mitigation Statement

USFS Upper Monument Creek – Monument Fuels Treatment

Most of you know that the USFS continues its three-year fire mitigation project in the 1,000 acres of open space surrounding the Monument Fire Center. According to the Fuels Management Office of the Pikes Peak Ranger District, this area was designated as extremely high risk for high-intensity, potentially catastrophic wildfires. Thus, USFS concentrated its money and efforts here to protect the wildland-urban interface and surrounding communities.

Monument Mastication talking points:

  • Reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires
  • Maintain healthy and resilient forests for future generations
  • Actively manage the landscape to increase the resiliency of the forest
  • Improve the health of the forest, watersheds, and wildlife habitat
  • Create fuel breaks in strategic locations for firefighter safety, to prevent fire spread, and create holding areas for prescribed fire
  • Ponderosa pine islands, individual trees, & large old oak trees would be protected
  • Remove Gambel oak and other woody brush that may serve as ladder fuels and encourage pine regeneration
  • Leave variation in oak growth forms, sizes, age classes, densities, and spatial distribution
  • Future treatments to follow during the winter seasons
  • Hand Thinning – Trees would be hand thinned using chainsaws.
  • Mastication – Oak shrubs & small trees will be mulched into small chunks by a rubber tire or tracked equipment.

While we appreciate the need for mitigation, FOMP has concerns about the execution of the project compared to the originally planned thinning operations. That is, while we were prepared for a mosaic cutting pattern, leaving islands of pines, firs, and Gambel oak, some areas have been completely leveled.

And while the Forest Service advertised promoting a more complex vegetation structure, the contractor left only the largest pines in many areas, with no medium-sized trees or scrub. Finally, these areas are completely cleared of growth on numerous slopes where FOMP members worked with USFS approval to plant pine seedlings in burn sites and ensure seedling release. FOMP is in contact with the Forest Service to voice these concerns and hopefully impact the next phase.

Many of our trails have been damaged due to equipment use and accumulation of slash. The USFS relies on FOMP to maintain trails and allow for the wide variety of recreational uses we all enjoy. During this project, the USFS informed FOMP that although they were not proactively protecting non-system trails, they did not intend to ruin or close any trails. Thus, once the contract work is completed and areas are opened, FOMP will organize volunteer work days to clear authorized trails and repair damage. In some cases, we will optimize trail alignment to avoid low spots where water pools to increase sustainability.

We will use our monthly trail work nights, the second Tuesday of each month, April – October, at 6:00 p.m., as well as additional work days to address the large amount of work to be done. Please watch for email and social media announcements, and help us recruit volunteers. We all look forward to getting the trails back into shape and enjoying our corner of Pike National Forest.

1 thought on “FOMP Monument Preserve Fire Mitigation Statement

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *