Economic Recovery Act Funds Granted to Rebuild Chuchupate Mt. Pinos District Station

LOCKWOOD VALLEY (Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2009, 9 p.m.)–The entire Chuchupate administration facility is to be rebuilt with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) funds. The proposal was in competition with 18 other National Forest areas throughout California, and is among a small handful to receive funding, according to Bruce Emmens, the Los Padres National Forest engineer who will oversee the project.

"This means jobs for the area," Emmens said in an interview Tuesday, Oct. 13. A request for design and construction bids will be issued by June 2010 he said, with contracts completed and money allocated by September 2010.

"This is the largest capital investment building program to ever be undertaken in the Mt. Pinos District of the Los Padres National Forest," observed Michael Berg, Executive Director of the National Forest Association–Los Padres who lives in Pinon Pines. "This project complements our efforts to put in the Mike Foster Native Plant Garden on the grounds adjacent to Chuchupate," he added.

The clock is ticking on the 30-days the public has to comment on the scope of the project. Comments are due by November 4, according to a letter received this week from the U.S. Forest Service, shown below, unedited as received from the USFS.

United States Department of Agriculture
Forest Service
Los Padres National Forest
Supervisor’s Office
6755 Hollister Ave., Suite 150
Goleta, CA 93117
(805) 968-6640
TDD: (805) 968-6790
File Code: 1950
Date: October 5, 2009
Dear Interested Party,
The US Forest Service, Los Padres National Forest (LPNF) is seeking public comment on the Proposed Action to replace all existing facilities and construct a new Administrative Office (District Office) on National Forest System Lands for the Mount Pinos Ranger District. The proposed project area is located at 34580 Lockwood Valley Road in Frazier Park, California. The project will be funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act). For a more detailed description of the Proposed Action, Purpose and Need, and the nature of the decision to be made, please refer to the enclosed attachment.

This public comment period is the scoping stage under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. The formal scoping period will end 30 days from the date of this letter. If you would like more information on this project, please contact Forest Recreation, Lands, and Engineering Staff Officer Bruce Emmens at 805-961-5734. If you have information you feel the Forest Service may not be aware of, or if you have constructive ideas regarding potential effects
of the proposal, please send your comments in writing to:
Forest Supervisor
Caring for the Land and Serving People

Proposed Action
The proposed action includes the following:
• Removal of the existing administrative office, several outbuildings and trailers
• Design and construction of a new office building, heliport facility, warehouse and fire station
• Upgrade and relocate all utilities
• Locate temporary office space during construction for affected employees
The new building construction will include site development, such as delineating, re-paving and striping separate public, employee and government vehicle parking and installation of new security fencing and gates to separate public from non-public areas. Landscaping around the buildings and parking areas will consist of native and drought-resistant plants, which will require little or no water. Construction is expected to start in the fall of 2010, with a completion date in the summer of 2011.
Purpose and Need
The purpose and need for the proposed action is to:
1. Replace outdated existing space with an efficient space for office staff and public interaction;
2. Comply with Forest Service architectural guidelines;
3. Meet “Silver” LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) requirements as set by the US Green Building Council;
4. Incorporate elements of the local community design standards.
Background Information
The Administrative Office for the Mount Pinos Ranger District of the Los Padres National Forest provides overall management and specialist services to the southeastern part of the Forest. The existing office and several outbuildings were constructed in 1940 and additional modular space was added during the 1970s and 1980s. The construction standards of these buildings fall short of current laws and codes. The Forest Facilities Master Plan documents replacement of the District Office, Helibase Facility and Engine Module.
Washington Office, Regional Office, and Forest primary management direction is to provide safe, clean, attractive, efficient and accessible facilities for all permanent and temporary employees and to provide service to the public, while reducing fixed costs through consolidation of facilities and decommissioning of unneeded buildings and administrative sites. The project proposal is consistent with the Forest Plan direction as described in Part 2, Buildings, Grounds and Utilities (pages 28 & 29) and Appendix B – Program Strategies and Tactics, Fac. 1 Facilities Maintenance Backlog (page 133).
Decision to be made
The decision to be made is whether to proceed with the proposed action as proposed, with modifications, or not at all (No Action Alternative).
Public Involvement
This project has been published in the Schedule of Proposed Actions for the Los Padres National Forest since July 1, 2009. Comments received in response to this request, including names and addresses of those who comment, will be considered part of the public record of this proposed action and will be available for public inspection. Scoping comments should be as specific as possible in order for the Forest Service to identify and consider each issue or concern. Upon completion of the environmental analysis, an opportunity to comment will be provided to those who respond to the scoping letter.

This is part of the October 09, 2009 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

Have an opinion on this matter? We'd like to hear from you.