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Old 09-18-2011, 12:01 PM
paulp575 paulp575 is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Spokane, WA
Posts: 69
Exclamation Colville and Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest Plan Revision - My Comments

The Colville and Okanogan National Forests are currently in the process of revising their Forest Plans. They are asking for comments to be received by September 28, 2011.
You can mail your comments to the following address:
Colville and Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forests Plan Revision Team
1240 Second Avenue South
Okanogan WA 98840
Or your can e-mail your comments to: r6_ewzplanrevision@fs.fed.us

I would strongly encourage you to e-mail your comments in that if you (postal) mail them, you will not know if they reached the forest plan office.

If you do not responded to the current proposals, according to the USFS, you will not have a basis to comment on any further public comment periods regarding the forest plan revision, so now is the time of comment!

You can review the Proposed Action document of the forest plan revision at this web site: http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/okawen/plan-revision .
On that page you will see a link to the Proposed Action - that is the document the forest plan revision team is requesting comments on.

Because the document is so extensive, the Forest Plan Revision Team has published a six page "Reviewer's Guide" to assist one in reviewing and commenting on the proposal. The last two pages of the Reviewer's Guide contains a sample Comment Form that could be used for providing comments. Discussion with Plan Revision team members advised me that you do not have to use that form; it's just a helpful guide!

There is a lot of information contained in the Proposed Action document. The Colville NF Proposed Actions document is 79 pages long! Probably the most interesting part is the "Proposed Actions" section covering pages 23 through 72. Within those pages, it is further broken down by topics and beginning on page 51, it is broken down by Management Area.

Each of the Proposed Actions sections is broken down further by --

Background to the Proposed Actions
Proposed Actions
Tools to Expect (management activities and monitoring activities)

It is the Proposed Actions section the Forest Plan Revision Team requests comments on.

Here's the breakdown of the Proposed Actions sections:

Landscape Character and Dynamics:
Aquatic and Riparian Systems
Plant Habitats
Vegetative Systems
Wildlife Habitats
Social Systems:
Access System
Livestock Grazing
Recreation
Renewable Forest Products
Scenery

It should be noted that some of the management areas listed above are included in the following management areas!

Management Areas
Active Restoration 2
Active Restoration 3
Administrative and Recreation Sites
Backcountry
Backcountry Motorized
Experimental Forest (Okanogan-Wenatchee Forest only)
National Scenic Area (NSA) (Okanogan-Wenatchee Forest only)
Nationally Designated Trails
Research Natural Areas (RNAs)
Riparian
Scenic Byways
Snoqualmie Pass Adaptive Management Area (Okanogan-Wenatchee Forest only)
Special Interest Areas (SIAs)
Wild and Scenic Rivers
Wilderness - Congressionally Designated
Wilderness - Preliminary Administratively Recommended
Wilderness Study Area

Note: The Wilderness - Preliminary Administratively Recommended are the areas being recommended for Congressionally-Designated Wilderness.

Below are my comments concerning the forest plan revision. Because my main area of interest is in 4x4ing in the Colville National Forest, my comments are limited to the Colville NF portion of the Proposed Action. I also have an interest in ATVing so some of my comments reflect that interest as well.

I ask that you do not copy my comments verbatim because if you do when the forest plan revision team receives exactly the same comments from more than one individual, they consider all those responses as one response. You may use my comments for the basis of your response.

If there is something in the Proposed Action you do not understand - especially if it relates to the Colville NF portion, please feel free to contact me for clarification. I have reviewed the Proposed Action document numerous times to obtain a better understanding of it's contents.

So with that aside, here's my comments - they are listed by pages - front to back:

Recreation (pages 44 through 46):

Proposed Actions (page 46): On pages 74 though 76, under "Process Information - Topics Not Addressed in the Revised Forest Plan", you mention on page 75 under Travel Management that "site-specific routes and areas for motor vehicle use are not made in this forest plan". While that is fully understood, you need to ensure that a statement that "the Travel Management process(es) would continue under the revised forest plan" is included in the new forest plan. That fact should be mentioned under Recreation - Proposed Actions on page 46. Other than the reference on page 75, I am not aware of any other mention of the Travel Management process which could be meant that the Travel Management process would/may not be continued under the revised forest plan.

Access System (page 41):

Your statement "The desired condition is to reduce the miles of inventoried unauthorized roads, and minimize the development and proliferation of new unauthorized roads and trails" is unacceptable. The specific portion that I disagree with is "inventoried unauthorized roads."

Rationale for disagreement: Rather than reducing the miles of unauthorized roads, many of which have been in place for more years than most of us can remember, why not conduct an analysis, which would include current usage of the roads, to determine if they are currently being used. If such is the case, then why not convert them to authorized roads? By adding mileage to the current inventory of authorized roads, you may be reducing the use of unauthorized roads.

Trail management (under Access System) (page 42):

Your statement "Close and decommission approximately one mile of user-created routes annually." I disagree with this statement.

Rationale for disagreement: Rather than reducing the miles of unauthorized roads, many of which have been in place for more years than most of us can remember, why not conduct an analysis, which would include current usage of the roads, to determine if they are currently being used. If such is the case, then why not convert them to authorized roads? By adding mileage to the current inventory of authorized roads, you may be reducing the use of unauthorized roads.

Your statement "Designate 30 miles of ATV trail on the Colville National Forest". I disagree with this statement.

Rationale for disagreement: Why only 30 miles over the period of the forest plan (approximately 15 years)? Several places within the Proposed Action you state that ATV use within the Colville is increasing so why limit it to just 30 miles for the duration of the forest plan? While it is understood there are budgetary issues involved, a specific statement as to the number of miles to increase indicates you do not value ATV use in the forest. Why not state something like "Within budgetary limitations, increase annually the number of miles of ATV trails within the Colville National Forest."

Backcountry Motorized (page 59):

Your statement "... and include the 2001 Inventoried Roadless Areas and the potential wilderness areas identified in the plan revision wilderness evaluation process. A few smaller unroaded areas are also included, as well as several places where previous decisions have slated removing system roads.

These areas are unroaded ...". I disagree with this statement.

Rationale for disagreement: According to the Google Earth data files provided on the plan revision web site, some of the Backcountry Motorized management areas do included roaded areas, i.e., the Mack/King Mtn. trail (trail # 98) lies within a management area designated as Backcountry Motorized as well as the Twin Sisters trail (trail # 109).

I do recognize that the US Forest Service considers roads and trails as two totally different things, but there is no mention in most of this Proposed Action about trails, except in one or two places where the word "ATV" precedes the word "trails".

The fact that some of the best 4x4 recognized trails in the entire Colville NF lie within your proposed Backcountry Motorized areas! This fact needs to be addressed!

Activities (under Backcountry Motorized) (page 60):

Your statement "These areas supply a variety of dispersed summer and winter recreation activities in an unroaded setting" again does not consider the above mentioned 4x4 trails. These need to be addressed somewhere in the Proposed Actions document.
__________________
Paul
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Spokane WA
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07 Jeep Rubicon AT Soft top

Member of:
Washington Off Highway Vehicle Alliance (WOHVA http://www.wohva.org)
North Idaho Trail Blazers (NITB; http://www.nitrailblazers.org)
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