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10Nov/05Off

ALERT: Lewis & Clark National Forest Proposed Winter Travel Plan

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SAWS Action Alert

Comments due by November 25, 2005 

Send written comments to:

      Forest Supervisor Lesley W. Thompson
      Lewis and Clark National Forest
      PO Box 869
      Great Falls, Mt. 59403-0869

Email your comments to comments-northern-lewisclark@fs.fed.us

Subject Line must contain the words: Little Belt-Castle-Crazy Mountains Travel Plan

For more information call Team Leader Dick Schwecke at 406-791-7747.

In the Little Belt Mountains we stand to lose:

All of the Logging Creek, Monument Peak, Middle Fork Wilderness Study Area, Dry Wolf area, Dry Fork area, Mizpah and Deadman areas, Jefferson Creek area, and Deep Creek area for just over 300,000 acres of riding area.

In the Crazy's we stand to lose:

The entire North East side of that range, including the Lebo Peak area, Loco Peak area , Middle Fork of Big Elk Fork Creek, Grouse Creek and north of Target Rock.

In the Castles we stand to lose:

The entire Eastern edge which includes Whestone Ridge, Pasture Gulch Creek and the West Fork of Copper Creek.

Keep in mind as you make your comments the Proposed Alternative was negotiated by MSA and MWA and the two voting clubs that ratified this agreement cannot collectively voice their concerns with this plan. BUT we can voice our concerns individually as snowmobilers.  This is the only alternative being brought forward at this time.  With the lack of comments the FS is receiving, they have only this Proposed Alternative and Alternative 1, which is No Change.

The LARGE BLOCK closures should not be allowed to happen. We as snowmobilers have been passively giving away our riding areas to the non-motorized crowd for years in this area.   Now MWA is trying to take it ALL away. I attended the meeting in Great Falls and the motorized supporters out numbered the non-motorized 5-1. This plan incorporates the Summer Travel Plan as well, which looks no better than our winter plan. One distinguishing point to note though is that in the Middle Fork Wilderness Study Area, motorcycle trails are still being allowed but not snowmobiles. There are private land holdings in this Wilderness Study Area and those landowners will still be allowed all modes of motorized travel to gain access to their newly established "Private Park". I know some of these landowners and they are not asking for the reduction in snowmobile use in this area.

One excuse the Forest Service is using to promote the closures is that no one has ridden these areas in years. The answer to that is the lack of snow we have had since 1996. When the snow does return these areas will be ridden again. 

Bottom line, SAWS supports NO CHANGE in the available riding areas and trails.  We strongly believe that any acreage removed from availability must be replaced with like acreage and like riding areas.  If you would like the map of the proposed closures to be mailed to you, contact Dick Schwecke directly at 406-791-7747.

I spoke with Mr. Schwecke just last week.  He informed me that comments on the Winter Plan are substantially lacking.  If more comments are not received soon we will have to accept what MSA/MWA agreed on.  Write NOW or DON'T Ride LATER!  We really need your help in overturning the mindset that MSA spoke for all us when they were at the negotiation table.  SAWS feels that the proposed negotiated Alternative is unacceptable to snowmobilers.  Help save one of the last TRUE Multiple Use Areas in the State of Montana!  This is only a 30 -day comment period and is NOT related to the Rocky Mountain Front.

For more information, please visit this website:
http://www.fs.fed.us/r1/lewisclark/projects/index-littlebelts.shtml

Feel free to call me for any other questions at 406-788-2399.

Craig S. Osterman
Snowmobile Alliance of Western States

Copyright © 2005 Snowmobile Alliance of Western States. All Rights Reserved.

Permission is granted to distribute this information in whole or in part, as long as Snowmobile Alliance of Western States (SAWS) is acknowledged as the source. If you are not yet a member of SAWS and you would like receive these alerts, please sign up on our web site at http://www.snowmobile-alliance.org

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