Here is a detailed alert from the Wyoming Wilderness Association on your comments on the Bridger-Teton Forest Plan’s desired future conditions. Public comment is being accepted until September 30. Ralph Maughan

This is very important if you love the country outside the national parks, but on the national forests of much of Northwest Wyoming.
Bridger-Teton National Forest Action Alert

FOREST PLAN REVISION—DESIRED CONDITIONS

Comments needed (sample letter at the bottom)! DUE September 30TH

After a year in the Forest Management Plan revision process, the Bridger-Teton National Forest (BTNF) has published the “Draft Desired Conditions” and is soliciting public comments. Your help is needed to guide how the forest will be managed for the next 10-15 years. Although the Draft Desired Conditions (DCC) are general in nature, and do not apply to any specific areas of the forest or prescribe any specific action or practice, they are vital in that they reflect the direction of forest management in the future. Although the BT states that it “strives to afford future generations the same opportunity to derive ecological, social and economic benefit from the land as that enjoyed by past and present generations”, the rate of roadless areas being lost to development is unprecedented. The BT is a big forest (3.4 million acres) with nearly 1,431,000 acres of roadless lands!

Please, make your voice heard and help protect one of the wildest, most scenic forests in America! WWA recommends that this information can be integrated into your letter to the BT by visiting the WWA web site: http://www.wildwyo.org/BTNF%20PAGES/BTForestPlanningRevisionProcess.html to make letter writing a cut & paste breeze! Or do your own research at the BT’s web site for this phase: http://www.fs.fed.us/r4/btnf/news/forest_plan_revision/round_3.shtml

The Wyoming Wilderness Association suspects where the Forest Service is proposing future conditions that are inadequate and downright detrimental to the preservation of the last remaining wild places. The most blatant shortcomings appear in the proposed future management of existing roadless areas and recommended wilderness areas.

THE WILDLANDS ISSUES

Roadless Lands at Risk—Protection Reinstated: Now that the Roadless Conservation Rule of 2001 is legally back, please urge the BTNF to review their management dictums of roadless areas, put the term “roadless area” back into your planning documents, analyze and plan to manage these areas for protection, not development. As noted by Chief Dale Bosworth in his 9/22/06 memo, “Do not approve any further management activities in inventoried roadless areas that would be prohibited by the 2001 Roadless Rule,” and that would include this forest plan revision process.

Perhaps the most outstanding feature of the Bridger-Teton National Forest is its wealth of trackless mountains. These roadless landscapes offer a wealth of uses and products that are important to the communities of northwestern Wyoming and to the nation. Highlights include:

·Opportunities for all types of recreation in natural landscapes ;

·Important elk security habitats; elk densities are highest in the Wyoming hunting units with the highest percentage of roadless lands;

·Most of the pure native cutthroat trout populations on the Forest;

·Secure habitats for rare native wildlife;

·Scenic backdrops for settlements and roadways; and

·Clean water for wildlife, fishes, and municipal water supplies.

However, the BT DDC does not use the words “Roadless Areas” as is the trend to rid America of roadless. There is only one category for roadless areas without motorized use, called Unroaded Backcountry which allows for winter motorized use! Urge the BT to offer and defend new Unroaded Backcountry winter areas and to not open any existing Unroaded Backcountry areas to winter or summer motorized use—maintaining quiet refuges for wildlife.

Ask that these priority Unroaded backcountry areas be protected:

The Wyoming Range – Two roadless areas encompass much of this remote and beautiful mountain range, which is currently threatened by oil and gas proposals.

Mount Leidy – The highlands between the Teton Wilderness and the Gros Ventre Range are the key linkage for wildlife between Yellowstone and the more southerly mountains in the Bridger-Teton.

The Palisades – The Wyoming side of The Palisades was set aside as a Wilderness Study Area, but now it is facing increasing pressure from helicopter-skiing operations.

Eastern Additions to the Gros Ventre Wilderness – The lands east of the Shoal Creek Wilderness Study Area and the Gros Ventre Wilderness provide outstanding wildlife habitat, but are threatened by oil and gas development.

Salt River Range – This wild mountain range is a prime candidate for proposed wilderness status.

All of the Bridger-Teton’s magnificent roadless areas deserve strong protection for their outstanding wildlife and public recreation values.

Recreation on the BT:

The Forest Service considers the Bridger-Teton a “recreation forest of national significance.” The scenic splendor of breathtaking mountain ranges, sparkling waterways, and unspoiled forests creates the perfect backdrop for recreation in a mountain setting. Over 2,460 miles of trails offer access to the wealth of backcountry of the Bridger-Teton. Some areas are of particular importance for recreation:

§ Wilderness areas, particularly portions with developed trail systems, receive heavy use and are popular with visitors from all across America;

§ Roadless areas are less well-known to the national audience, and are popular with locals and Wyoming residents seeking solitude in a natural setting and great hunting opportunities.

The large and increasing number of visitors to the Bridger-Teton poses unique challenges. Motorized recreation is often incompatible with quiet types of recreation, and some nonmotorized recreation types (like horseback riding and mountain biking) are incompatible with each other, requiring zoning to separate various uses. Illegal off-road vehicle use is causing damage to the land in some places, while off-trail hiking in sensitive wildlife habitats can disturb wildlife. The new Forest Plan must solve the problems posed by these challenges by balancing recreation uses.

Human recreation must be compatible with the presence of grizzly bears, which are found throughout the Bridger-Teton. To minimize the chance of human-grizzly conflicts, safe bear food storage orders should always be required throughout the Forest.

The ideal forest plan will provide recreation opportunities that preserve the viability of native species, preserve all natural scenic vistas, preserve the recreational environment, and do not compromise the experience of other recreational visitors.

Recommended Wilderness Areas: Wilderness recommendation is truly the only lasting protection for critical wildlife habitat. This is the only time the Forest Service will review and recommend roadless areas for wilderness. By definition, roadless areas may be essentially untrammeled, large enough to provide excellent opportunities for solitude and quiet refuge, encompass unique and outstanding topography, and important for wildlife and water protection. Although this stage of planning does not recognize specific areas to be recommended for wilderness, it is very important that the public speak out for wilderness recommendations of significant roadless areas.

Motorized and mechanized access into these areas can lead to permanent resource damage, illegal user-created roads and trails, and can ultimately provide a reason for exclusion from wilderness designation. The only way to ensure wilderness eligibility is to manage these areas as de facto wilderness.

Urge the Forest Service is not allow motorized and mechanized activities, like snowmobiling on areas that are recommended for wilderness designation.

WWA strongly advocates that recommended wilderness areas be managed under the same conditions as designated wilderness areas, including disallowing motorized and mechanized uses, to ensure the preservation of their unique wilderness characteristics and to prevent them from being excluded from future wilderness designation.

“Sense of Place” is a new designation for a special place that is defined as covering a broad range of values ranging from scenic integrity, which is the wholeness of the landscape’s character and appearance as they contribute to pleasing backdrops for various uses, to the culture and self-identity of communities, which includes the forested environment as a whole and the ways in which it has been traditionally used and enjoyed. Tell the BT that your “Sense of Place” is that of wildness and describe your wilderness experience.

Wild and Scenic Rivers: These wild waterways are defined under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act which specifies three classification categories: wild, scenic, and recreational. The only river in Wyoming currently designated under this Act is the Clarks Fork Wild River. There are several BT rivers that qualify for Wild and Scenic River designation, a protection which the Forest Service should recommend during the forest plan revision:

Snake River – A famous rafting and fly fishing destination, this principal river flows through scenic canyon country.

Buffalo Fork – This gentle, meandering river wanders down from the highlands of the Teton Wilderness through meadows rich with wildlife.

Gros Ventre River – This scenic river flows through a valley of grass and sagebrush bordered by the scenic Gros Ventre Range and the colorful Red Hills. It forms a migration corridor for the Grand Teton pronghorn herd, and lakes along its length offer nesting habitat for trumpeter swans.

While the proposed management of these rivers supposedly protects their eligibility for wild, scenic, or recreational designation, urge the Forest Service to study and recommend all eligible rivers for Wild and Scenic designation and, meanwhile–protect the corridors from any development.

Native Fishes that Deserve Special Protection: The Snake River fine-spotted cutthroat is a native variety that is doing very well on the Bridger-Teton National Forest. But there are a number of native fishes that still thrive in the Bridger-Teton, but have become sufficiently scarce nationwide that they have been petitioned or listed under the Endangered Species Act:

§ Colorado River cutthroat trout – This native cutthroat evolved to the Bridger-Teton, in the valley drained by the Upper Green River.

§ Kendall Warm Springs dace – This small, minnow-like fish lives only in a single warm spring beside the Green River on the Bridger-Teton.

§ Bonneville cutthroat trout – This unique cutthroat evolved to warmer, silty waters like the Bear River watershed on the western side of Commissary Ridge.

Research Natural Area (RNA): These areas represent rare geologic, ecologic, or vegetative communities that are preserved for scientific research purposes or to serve as reference areas as pristine, natural areas. The Bridger-Teton N.F. has several potential areas to be considered for RNA classification. These areas need to be preserved and classified as RNA’s to increase the protection of the unique and unusual ecosystems of the Greater Yellowstone area. Although the forest is not asking for comments on specific areas right now, WWA recommends that all potential RNA’s continue to be protected and preserved and that the Bridger-Teton N.F. designates all potential areas as official RNA’s in this planning process.

Wildlife Migration Corridors and Key Habitats: There are a number of key migration corridors and sensitive wildlife habitats that deserve special measures to protect them under the new Forest Plan. These areas should be withdrawn from industrial uses, and special seasonal provisions may also be warranted:

o Pronghorn Migration Corridor – Extending up the Gros Ventre River to Union Pass and then south to the Green River, this corridor hosts the second longest remaining land mammal migration in North America. This same migration corridor is important for cougar seasonal migrations.

o Upper Hoback – an important migration corridor for lynx, bears, and elk and mule deer.

o Togwotee Pass – An important migration corridor for elk, wolves, and grizzly bears.

o Union Pass – An important linkage for all types of wildlife between the Yellowstone complex and the Wind River Range.

Rare Native Wildlife: The Bridger-Teton National Forest contains practically all of the native wildlife that lived here before the arrival of the first white explorers. Included in this rich diversity of plants and animals are species that are exceedingly rare elsewhere.

These rare Wyoming natives should be accorded special measures and needs to ensure that they have the high-quality habitat they need to survive and thrive: Wolverine – The wolverine requires large tracts of pristine habitat with little human activity or intrusions. Trumpeter Swan –The trumpeter swan is dependent on lakes and wetlands for nesting; known nesting areas need to be protected under the new Forest Plan. Lynx –The lynx requires large tracts of virgin forest, particularly old-growth forest which serves as denning habitat. Clearcutting and oil and gas development degrade lynx habitat, and should be avoided where lynx occur. Bald Eagle – Nest sites and roosting trees often occur along riverside cottonwoods and are used year after year; roads and other types of development should not occur within a mile of these sites. Grey Wolf –Wolves shun the presence of people, and require large tracts of remote country to thrive. Northern Goshawk – Large tracts of mature forest must be protected from logging, particularly clearcutting. Bison – Bison migration corridors should remain pristine and undeveloped. Grizzly Bear – Grizzly bears are particularly sensitive to roads and human intrusions. Large blocks of natural habitat must be protected, linked by corridors that allow bears to move from one big tract of undeveloped country to the next. In addition, whitebark pine nuts are a critical autumn food source for grizzlies, and these trees require fires in timberline areas to regenerate. Boreal Owl –Clearcutting and forest fragmentation degrade the forest habitat needed by these owls; clearcutting should not be allowed in potential boreal owl habitat. Bighorn Sheep –Diseases from domestic sheep are deadly to bighorns, and the two must be amply separated to prevent catastrophic loss of bighorn populations. Also, lambing areas, migration corridors, and crucial winter range should be protected from road-building and oil and gas development. Pronghorn Antelope –The pronghorn migration corridor should be protected from oil and gas development, human intrusions, and fences that impede migrations. Three-Toed Woodpecker –This woodpecker nests exclusively in cavities in dead trees; these “snags” should be retained in the forest. Peregrine Falcon – Peregrines are very sensitive to human disturbance during the nesting season, and industrial activity should not be permitted within a mile of nest sites.

Oil and Gas:
PLEASE urge the BTNF to make this Forest Plan Revision into a plan that gives Americans the chance to permanently protect and close off any areas that are new leasing nominations as well as all the areas within the 375,000 forested acres of the Hoback Basin, Upper Green River watershed and along tributaries of the Gros Ventre and Buffalo Fork rivers.

We need to tell this agency to manage the Bridger-Teton for its wildlife and scenic values recognize that oil and gas leasing is not suitable within its boundaries. The 200,000 some acres within the BTNF that are already committed to future oil and natural gas development is a travesty to this special environment. Wyoming’s elected leadership has spoken time and again, “NO LEASING in the BTNF”.

Yet the BT within this current Forest Plan would allow for another 1.7 million acres to be leased for oil and gas. WWA urges the Forest Service (Part 2, Page 30) to recognize that the long-term economic engine driving the region’s tourism and recreation economy is the protection of the BT’s abundant wildlife, scenery, and clean air.

Tell the BTNF that additional oil and gas leasing (Part 2, Page 11) is not consistent with the desired condition of maintaining our excellent air quality in Class 1 wilderness and similar areas. In addition, additional oil and gas leasing (at Part 2, Page 26) runs counter to the goal of retaining the forest’s high scenic integrity.

A Sample letter pasted below for your convenience. Please personalize that letter!

Comments are due on 9/30/06!

The BTNF prefers you to email your comment to: btnfplanrevision@fs.fed.us

Or mail to:

Rick Fox, Planner

Bridger-Teton National Forest
P.O. Box 1888
Jackson, WY 83001

This alert brought to you by:

The Wyoming Wilderness Association

PO Box 6588

Sheridan, WY 82801

We’re on the Web! www.wildwyo.org,

email: liz@wildwyo.org

(307) 672-2751

SAMPLE LETTER TO BRIDGER TETON TO BE RECEIVED BY SEPT 30, 2006—

Cut and paste onto your personal email then be sure to personalize it…

DATE:

Rick Fox, Planner

Bridger-Teton National Forest
P.O. Box 1888
Jackson, WY 83001

btnfplanrevision@fs.fed.us

RE: DRAFT DESIRED CONDITIONS –COMMENTS ON CONTEXT AND VISION FOR THE BTNF

Dear Rick:

Please accept this letter as an official comment on the Draft Desired Conditions for the Bridger-Teton National Forest Plan Revision (BTNF).

Any planning for roadless area development must be changed to reflect the 2001 Roadless Conservation Rule that is now reinstated. I urge the BTNF to review the management of roadless areas, put the term “roadless area” back into your planning documents, analyze and plan to manage these areas for protection, not development The ideal forest plan will provide recreation opportunities that preserve the viability of native species, preserve all natural scenic vistas, preserve the recreational environment, and do not compromise the experience of other recreational visitors. I am very concerned about the BTNF’s proposed future management of existing roadless areas which you call Unroaded Backcountry areas and those areas to be recommended wilderness areas. The Desired Condition for Unroaded Backcountry should reflect the important of maintaining and protecting: critical habitat for elk and bighorn sheep and other game species; important watersheds and ensure high water quality in surrounding communities; excellent opportunities for primitive backcountry recreation such as horse-packing and backpacking; areas that are ecological strongholds to maintain buffer zones for wildfires and invasive species; and the long-term, sustainable economic stability to surrounding communities and the state through hunting, fishing, and tourism income.

Unroaded Backcountry areas must be maintained as non-motorized to protect the rugged character of the BTNF. I object to the development of any Unroaded Backcountry. This is not the condition of the BTNF that I desire. In fact, my “Sense of Place” includes that of wildness, quiet places, wildlife habitat and great hunting.

I do not want the Forest Service to allow motorized and mechanized activities on areas that are recommended for wilderness designation including the Palisades WSA. I strongly advocate that recommended wilderness areas be managed under the same conditions as designated wilderness areas, including disallowing motorized and mechanized uses, to ensure the preservation of their unique wilderness characteristics and to prevent them from being excluded from future wilderness designation.

I urge the BTNF to study and recommend all eligible rivers for Wild and Scenic designation and protect the corridors from any development. It would be desirable to maintain the ecological integrity of all potential Research Natural Areas. Please preserve and designate all eligible RNAs in this planning process.

Wildlife habitat areas that are important to provide the highest protection are the Primary Conservation Area and linkage corridors for grizzly bears and other migrating species. Critical habitat for lynx, wolverine, peregrine falcons, northern goshawks, three-toed woodpeckers, boreal owls, trumpeter swans, gray wolves, bison, elk and pronghorn should be kept primitive without disturbance from motorized use. Key wildlife corridors that should be withdrawn from industrial uses, and special seasonal provisions may also be warranted are the Pronghorn Migration Corridor, Upper Hoback, Togwotee, and Union Pass.

There are a number of native fishes that still thrive in the Bridger-Teton, but have become sufficiently scarce nationwide that they have been petitioned or listed under the Endangered Species Act. Please review your DDC to protect the water sheds for the Colorado River cutthroat trout, Kendall Warm Springs dace, and the Bonneville cutthroat trout.

Your DDC says that the BT will “strive to afford future generations the same opportunity to derive ecological, social and economic benefit from the land as that enjoyed by past and present generations”. I challenge the Forest Service to have a no net gain on roads, no more logging where it is not sustainable within one generation and no more oil and gas leasing where the loss is greater over a lifetime than the small amount of energy gained.

The BTNF is not suitable for oil and gas leasing and all areas should be closed permanently to this activity. The sustainable economic long term base of Wyoming’s communities around the BT rely on the protection of our wildlife, water and wild recreations resources. Wilderness Study Areas should be closed to leasing as well.

Please include me in all future comment periods on the B-T National Forest. Thank you.

Sincerely,

NAME: _________________________________(SIGN) _______________________________(PRINT)

ADDRESS: ______________________________________________

CITY: _____________________________ ST: _______ ZIP: _______________________

PHONE:_____________________________ EMAIL: __________________________________

 
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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

One Response to Your chance to comment on Bridger-Teton forest plan "desired conditions" ends Sept. 30

  1. avatar monty d wilson says:

    The Greater Yellowstone Area (GYA) is unique as it represents one of the largest intact ecosystems in the temperate regions of the world. As the majority of America landscapes are being consummed by the imdustrial machine, our public lands represent the last best hope for the “Big Wild Western Landscapes”. All remaining unroaded areas in the GYA should be designated wilderness. It is said that we must learn the art of comprise to solve intractable problems. If 95 % or more of the American landscape is destined to be urbanzied, paved over or converted to agriculture, is it unreasonable to save 5% or less in a wild condition? Who is compromising, those who want 100% or those who will settle for 5%?

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Quote

‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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