One of the goals we set when we started the planning process for the proposed Bill Williams Mountain Restoration Project was to keep the public informed about the progress of the project. Therefore, I want to take this opportunity to give you another update about what we've been working on that will help us arrive at a decision to restore forested conditions on approximately 15,000 acres on and around the mountain, south of Williams, Ariz.
The comment period for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement ended Aug. 27. We hosted an open house in August that provided another opportunity for the public to meet the team of specialists working on the project and to ask specific questions about issues such as road construction and natural and cultural resource protection. Many people took advantage of this opportunity to comment on the project. We are in the process of addressing all of the comments we received.
We have also provided updates and led many field trips for federally recognized tribes including Havasupai, Hopi, Hualapai, Navajo, and Yavapai-Prescott, to see first-hand what is planned for the project. A collaborative effort is ongoing with the Hualapai Tribe to survey and inventory plants on the mountain. Other site visits are scheduled for agencies and partners interested in learning more.
We know there will be numerous fires started by lightning every year on the Kaibab National Forest. Some of these fires start near or on the mountain. It is not a question of "if;" it is a matter of "when" one of these fires will become a large fire. Recalling the images from severe wildfires in Arizona and New Mexico reminds us of the importance of implementing this project as quickly as possible.
We appreciate the participation we have had in the planning process so far. Even though there are differences about the methods needed to get this work done, the input we have received continues to help us develop the strategy needed to move forward.
Be watching for the release of the final Environmental Impact Statement early next year. I look forward to working with you to implement this plan to reduce hazardous fuels on the mountain and improve forest health near our community. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call me at the Williams Ranger District, (928) 635-5600.