this is from our partners over at the Snowmobile Alliance of Western States (SAWS)
News: Blue Mountain Forest Plan Revision documents have been published
On March 23, 2010, the national forests of Malheur, Umatilla and Wallowa-Whitman, collectively referred to as the Blue Mountain national forests, announced and published their Proposed Action plan.
This initiates the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process for the forest plan revision. Using public comment, the planning team will develop alternatives to the proposal and analyze the effects of the proposal and alternatives on the environment. The result will be a draft environmental impact statement, which is expected to be released to the public for comment in 2011. The final decision is expected in 2012.
Public Meetings to explain the proposal, the NEPA process, and how to make effective comments will be held around Oregon (with one stop in Washington) in April.
April 6 - 5:00-8:00 pm Federal Building, Juniper Hall, 431 Patterson, John Day, OR
April 7 - 5:00-8:00 pm Harney County Senior & Community Services Center, 17 S. Alder St., Burns, OR
April 13 - 5:00-8:00 pm Pendleton Convention Center, Rooms 3 & 4, 1601 Westgate, Pendleton, OR
April 14 - 5:00-8:00 pm Saint Patrick Senior Center, 182 N. Main, Heppner, OR
April 15 - 5:00-8:00 pm Public Use Building - Columbia Co. Engineer's Office, 1 No. Pine, Dayton, OR
April 20 - 5:00-8:00 pm Sunridge Inn, One Sunridge Lane, Baker City, OR
April 21 - 5:00-8:00 pm Eastern Oregon University, One University Blvd, Hoke Hall, Room 309, La Grande, OR
April 22 - 5:00-8:00 pm Civic Center, 102 E 1st St., Joseph, OR
April 28 - 5:00-8:00 pm Red Lion Convention Center, 1021 NE Grande Ave., Portland, OR
April 29 - 5:00-8:00 pm Franklin County PUD, 1411 West Clark, Pasco, WA
Here's a link to the website that contains all the pertinent documents. http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/uma/blue_mtn...roposedaction/
I have reviewed the Proposed Action document and the following Management Areas are, per the information in the document, designated as unsuitable for winter-motorized travel.
Wilderness: 730,886 acres
Recommended Wilderness Area (RWA): 16,350 acres
Wilderness Study Area: 2,349
Designated Wild and Scenic Rivers: 72,657 acres
Research Natural Areas: 21,213 acres (established and proposed)
Historical Areas: 1,017 acres (Sumpter Valley Railroad, Greenhorn, Olive Lake-Fremont Powerhouse, Target Meadows)
Municipal Watersheds: 44,958 acres
Riparian Management Areas: 968,366 acres
Non-motorized Undeveloped: 83,520 acres
Keep in mind that these are areas that are already (such as Wilderness), or implied to be (such as RWA), closed to snowmobiles. This information is a combination of data found in Part 2: Strategy. Part 2 of the document provides descriptions and desired conditions for each management area and in some cases, but not all, has a table that identifies specific locations, by name, by forest. There seems to be some inconsistencies in the reported acreage numbers from one table to another, and you should not total the above values together to reach total acreage, as there is overlapping acreage across management areas.
SAWS will be concerned with additional loss of acreage, which could come from a variety of expanding or new management area designations (Wilderness, RWA, etc). The cover letter I received indicates that routes and trails are not part of the plan revisions, but be aware that our concern is with any restriction that will limit or close land to snowmobile cross-country access. In the past, RWAs in Region 6 have remained open to motorized use. However, the trend from Region 1 is to close all RWAs to motorized use. The information in the plan documents about RWAs in the Blues is vague and in some places contradictory.
At this time SAWS anticipates it will send out a SAW Alert to members in OR, WA and ID after we attend the meeting in Portland. You can expect the Alert to contain clear recommendations and suggestions to use when preparing your comments to the Blues planning team. It is better to be more informed and vocal at the beginning of this process rather than at the end. Re-opening land to motorized access is all but impossible once it has been closed. Your early and continued involvement will be key to protecting these riding areas for the future. In the meantime, if you have questions, comments, or concerns, please contact either one of us directly. As I stated earlier, if you do attend a meeting we would be very pleased to hear from you. Oh, and anyone with specific local level insight and information is welcome to help us prepare the upcoming Alert.
Thanks for your time! If you are heading out to enjoy the fresh snow from the current storm, please travel and ride safely!!