Snowmobile Alliance of Western States Cutting through deceptions & misperceptions to protect YOUR RIGHT to ride!

7Mar/06Off

ALERT: Washington & Oregon Forest Plan Revisions and Recommended Wilderness Areas – Last chance to make a difference!

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SAWS Action Alert

Those of you that have been members of the Snowmobile Alliance of Western States (SAWS) since our formation in late 2004 are aware that there are currently six Forest Plan Revisions (FPR) in the works in Forest Service Region 6 (Washington and Oregon).  The forests involved are the Colville, Okanogan, and Wenatchee (COW) National Forests in central and northeast Washington, which are referred to as the COW FPR; and the Umatilla, Malheur, and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests in Oregon with a portion of Umatilla in the southeast corner of Washington, referred to as the Blue Mountains FPR.  There are approximately two million acres of so-called Inventoried Roadless Areas (IRA) in these six forests.  As you know, many of these IRA’s do contain roads, trails, and snowmobile play areas that are used for recreational purposes.  Some of these IRA’s will be recommended for Wilderness.

Recently, a SAWS Action Alert was e-mailed to our Washington State SAWS members regarding SJM 8031.  This bill proposed that our state legislature send a letter to the federal administration stating their support for President Clinton’s original 2001 Roadless rule.  Thank you to those of you that sent your state elected representative a letter regarding this bill to let them know you were not in support of this action.  At this time it appears this bill has died.

What do snowmobilers in Forest Service Region 6 have to lose during the current FPR’s, especially related to these IRA’s, and their potential for becoming new Recommended Wilderness Areas (RWA), and then possibly being designated as true Wilderness by Congress in the future?  We have plenty to lose.  You can still affect some of the outcome from these revised forest plans, but time is very short.

Colville National Forest (CNF) Action:  SAWS members who live near and/or recreate in the CNF are strongly encouraged to attend any of the upcoming forest planning meetings to collaborate with the forest service and other recreationists to help determine which areas will or will not be recommended for Wilderness in the CNF.  Meeting dates as of this writing are not yet firm, but I urge you to keep checking the Colville, Okanogan and Wenatchee Forest Plans Revisions website at www.fs.fed.us/r6/colville/cow for updates and to find out how you can be involved.  For further detailed information contact:

    Debbie Wilkins
    Recreation, Engineering, Lands, and Minerals Staff
    Colville National Forest

    Telephone: 509-447-7322

    E-mail:  dwilkins@fs.fed.us

 Those not at the table will not have a say in what will eventually be decided regarding potential Wilderness areas in this forest.

Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forest Action:  The Provisional Advisory Council (PAC) which was formed during the Northwest Forest Plan will help the Forest Service determine which areas will or will not be recommended for Wilderness within the Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forests.  The next PAC meeting will be held on March 22nd and these meetings are open to the public.  Future public meetings/open houses will likely occur this summer or early fall.  For further information regarding the PAC meetings or the Forest Plan in general, please contact:

    Rick Acosta
    Public Affairs Officer and Social Lead, Forest Plan Revision Team
    Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest

    Telephone: 509-664-9210

    Email:  racosta@fs.fed.us

Visit the FPR website at www.fs.fed.us/r6/colville/cow for updates on the process, and to find out what the next step of public involvement will be and how you can participate.

Blue Mountains FPR Action:  Numerous meetings have been held in the past for these three forests, many of which SAWS previously alerted you to.  The Forest Revision Team is planning to hold seven open houses in May and you are strongly encouraged to attend.  The locations and dates are:  Burns, OR – May 16th at 6pm; John Day, OR – May 17th at 2pm; Enterprise, OR – May 18th at 6pm; Dayton, WA – May 23rd at 6pm; Sandy, OR – May 23rd at 6pm; Pendleton, OR – May 24th at 2pm; and La Grande, OR – May 25th a 2pm.  Further details of these meetings will be available on their website at www.fs.fed.us/r6/uma/blue_mtn_planrevision/index.shtml.  For more information, please contact:

    Tami Paulsen
    Public Affairs Specialist, Forest Plan Revision Team
    Wallowa-Whitman National Forest

    Telephone: 541-523-1332

    Email:  tpaulsen@fs.fed.us

I have written the planning teams and forest supervisors for all of these forests several times in the past and informed them that SAWS supports no net loss of areas open to over-the-snow winter motorized recreation in these plan revisions; that SAWS does not support any further Wilderness recommendations in any of these forests; and that all IRA’s, whether recommended for Wilderness or not, must remain open to over-the-snow winter motorized recreation as they are today.

I have also been in touch with the Region 6 Headquarters in Portland, Oregon to discuss some of my concerns.  I did receive some positive feedback from the Region 6 Forester, Linda Goodman, and she did acknowledge that my interpretation for management of motorized use in RWA’s was correct per Forest Service Manual (FSM) 1923.03.  She also followed up with a letter to all six of the forest supervisors involved with these plan revisions discussed above and reiterated the policy regarding management of motorized recreation in RWA’s within Region 6.

SAWS is fighting to keep our riding areas open.  Will you?

Dave Hurwitz
Snowmobile Alliance of Western States

Copyright © 2006 Snowmobile Alliance of Western States. All Rights Reserved.

Permission is granted to distribute this information in whole or in part, as long as the 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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