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Hazard Tree Management Plan EA

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The purpose of the park's draft Hazard Tree Management Plan (HTMP) is to provide guidelines to identify and assess what represents a hazard tree and identifies a range of management actions to select from to reduce the hazard within all management zones while considering ecological concerns. While most hazard tree work takes place in the visitor service zone, some structures and designated campgrounds in the backcountry zone require protection from damage caused by hazard trees. The draft HTMP also would assign responsibilities for carrying out the program.
The objectives of the Hazard Tree Management Program are as follows with their associated sub-objectives that would better achieve the objectives:
• Assure park-wide consistency and continuity in hazard tree surveys, ratings, documentation, and evaluation of management alternatives.
• Clarify management zones used for setting priorities
• Clarify responsibility of hazard tree management along road corridors
• Clarify locations and responsibilities for cutting trees in the backcountry management zone
• Implementation of a systematic, yet ecologically sound, program that provides regular prioritized surveys, evaluation of potentially hazardous trees, and treatment.
• Clarify the type of hazard tree monitoring to be conducted
• Preservation of ecosystem dynamics and structure, particularly the age classes and species diversity, while reducing hazards.
• Clarify the procedures for dealing with downed trees
• Implement guidelines for planting young trees as mitigation for tree removal
This Environmental Assessment (EA) evaluates two alternatives: a No Action alternative and an Action alternative (the Preferred alternative). The No Action alternative would continue managing hazard trees in the park as directed in the 1994 Hazard Tree Management Plan, under management zones that are no longer used and were replaced by the new zones described in the 1999 General Management Plan (NPS 1999a). The 1994 plan did not include guidance for backcountry tree removal, monitoring, disposition of downed trees or mitigation for the loss of trees. The Preferred alternative described in this Draft Plan would implement a new Hazard Tree Management Plan (HTMP) that would be consistent with management zones developed in the 1999 General Management Plan; provide guidance for monitoring, a protocol for evaluating trees with obvious defects or damage, decision making tools to determine, the fate of identified hazard trees and mitigation for the loss of trees. The Preferred alternative also addresses management of hazard trees in established backcountry campgrounds and around historic backcountry cabins. Once approved, this new plan would replace the 1994 Hazard Tree Management Plan.