WARREN — The USDA Forest Service is accepting public comments on a proposal to improve the long-term sustainability of oak forests in Tracy Ridge.

The mature oak stands present today were established through a combination of pre-settlement Native American land use, which included the use of low to moderate intensity fires, and unregulated logging that occurred in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Since then, the area has remained largely undisturbed. In the absence of periodic disturbance, mature oak trees will eventually be replaced as other hardwood species outcompete oak seedlings.

To create and maintain a more open stand structure, and a competitive advantage for oak seedlings to replace mature oaks when they succumb to natural mortality events, the USDA Forest Service is proposing to reintroduce periodic fire on approximately 2,000 acres in the vicinity of Sugar Bay and the Handsome Lake Campground. Mosaic understory burns would be designed and implemented to consume surface fuels only, with implementation expected to begin in 2022.

For more information, a scoping document is available for download at www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=58647. Printed copies are available upon request.

Comments may be submitted at any time, but would be most helpful if received by Oct. 15, 2020.

If you would like more information, contact District Ranger Rich Hatfield at 814-363-6098 or richard.hatfield@usda.gov.