BRIDGEWATER — The United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service will hold a public meeting on Thursday to answer questions regarding the North Shenandoah Mountain Restoration and Management Project.

The meeting will be from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Bridgewater Town Hall. District rangers and staff will be present to assist with any questions and concerns.

The North Shenandoah Mountain Restoration and Management Project, or NSM, proposes landscape-scale restoration and management aimed at improving watershed conditions, restoring habitats for a diversity of terrestrial and aquatic species, increasing resilience in ecological systems and providing forest products to local economies, according to a press release.

The project’s focus areas are Rockingham County and Pendleton County in West Virginia. The project proposes restoration action on approximately 9,430 acres out of the 128,000-acre planning area.

Project working areas include Blue Hole and Grove Hollow, Camp Run and Mitchell Knob, German River, Feltz Ridge and Leading River and Slate Lick and Cross Mountain.

The project was designed to move the existing conditions within the North River Ranger District toward desired conditions described in the 2014 Revised Forest Plan for the George Washington National Forest, according to the USDA Forest Service website. The Draft Environmental Assessment documents the site-specific analysis for implementing the proposed action, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969.

The use of silvicultural methods, or practices of controlling the growth, composition, health and quality of forests, include: thinning, regeneration harvest, grassy area enhancement, planting, forest stand improvement, non-native invasive species treatment and prescribed fire, according to the press release.

Creation and maintenance of wildlife clearings, open grasslands and open savanna and woodlands habitat are also parts of the proposal, along with yellow pine and aquatic ecosystems restoration efforts in the form of planting, large woody debris placement, aquatic organism passage restoration and riparian buffering.

The proposal also contains transportation components, including limited new system roads, temporary roads, road maintenance, reconstruction and decommissioning.

Information on the proposed action and associated documents can be viewed at https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=50342 as well as in the district office in Harrisonburg.

The USDA Forest Service asks for attendees to provide comments on how to improve the proposal, what attendees prefer in other alternatives or other ideas. Those who reference documents in comments are asked to attach complete copies or links to those references.

Comments must be submitted by Sept. 14. Comments can be uploaded electronically or mailed to Mary Yonce at 401 Oakwood Drive, Harrisonburg, VA 22801.

Contact Jessica Wetzler at 574-6279 or jwetzler@dnronline.com. Follow Jessica on Twitter @wetzler_jessica

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