A SPECIAL ACTION ALERT FROM THE HIGH UINTAS PRESERVATION COUNCIL ON WCNF FOREST PLAN REVISION
"Preliminary Alternatives for the Wasatch-Cache Forest Plan Revision" requires our comments before September 29!
The Wasatch-Cache National Forest has finally released the Preliminary Alternatives, Wasatch-Cache National Forest Plan Revision. THIS IS NOT THE DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT (DEIS), but represents the 5 alternatives that will be evaluated in the DEIS. The DEIS will follow this document sometime later in the fall or early winter. To the credit of the Wasatch, they are asking for public review and comment on this intermediate step in the forest plan revision process. This document comes to us unfinished, as the Forest Service notes, and incomplete and serves only as a broad review of alternatives--an umbrella, if you will.
COMMENTS ARE DUE SEPTEMBER 29 to Bernie Weingardt, Forest Supervisor, Wasatch- Cache National Forest, Attn.: Revision Team, 8236 Federal Bldg., SLC, UT 84138 or ON LINE: email@example.com
The five alternatives represent various themes:
This alert will focus primarily on the disposition of roadless areas.
THANK THE HEAVENS FOR THE NATIONAL ROADLESS AREA CONSERVATION PROPOSAL (NRACP)!
THERE ARE A NUMBER OF VERY HOPEFUL AND POSITIVE COMPONENTS ASSOCIATED WITH THE FIRST THREE ALTERNATIVES:
* discourage introduction of non-native species (1-3) * protection of wildlife corridors (1-2) * wildland fires allowed (1-3) * timber harvesting not allowed in roadless areas (1), or to achieve historic conditions (2-3) * no ski area expansion (1-3) * no additional recreational facilities (1);limited facilities consistent with management prescriptions (2-3) * no oil and gas leasing on North Slope (1)
...BUT THERE ARE SIGNIFICANT PROBLEMS:
* snowmobiling allowed on most areas w. exception of lynx habitat and wilderness recommendations (1-3) * reliance on structural improvements to restore watersheds rather than limits on uses (2-3) * oil and gas leasing even in roadless areas--no surface occupancy instead of no lease proposal (2-3) * the nemesis, forest health, pops up in an ugly fashion with emphasis on thinning/harvesting (2-3)
...AND SOME UGLY PROBLEMS:
* Alternative 5 is obviously purely a response to local rural WY counties intent on maintaining the archaic "culture and custom" arguments, despite the fact that the demographics of these rural counties have changed dramatically and are simply no longer dependent upon outdated, ecologically illiterate management.
SO WHAT CAN WE DO NOW?
*Remember, this is not the DEIS so it isn't important to support one alternative over another. But becuase the whole DEIS turns on the quality of the alternatives, we must make sure the alternatives are meaningful, ecologically based and not skewed toward the development of the forest! 1- Urge the Forest Service to protect all roadless areas, independent of the NRCP, with a formal roadless area protection prescription in Alt.3, the Proposed Action, particularly since it is based on a need-for-change. The scientific data and broad public support for protection of roadless areas is clear, concise and convincing. 2- While the wilderness recommendations are reasonably gratifying in Alternative 1, the drop-off is implausible within Alts 2-5, particularly 2 and 3. In particular, the Lakes/Mt. Watson area wilderness recommendation should be larger, more akin to HUPC's recommendations, and should be carried in both 1 and 2. Certainly a 60,000-80,000 acre Lakes roadless area should be carried in the proposed action alternative. At the minimum the wilderness recommendations adjacent to the existing wildernesses (High Uintas, Mt. Naomi, Deseret Peak, Twin Peaks, Lone Peak, Mt. Olympus, and the Wellsvilles) in #1 should be carried through #2 and the proposed action to meet both the intent of #2 and the need-for-change in #3. 3- Oil and gas leasing should reflect a No Lease for all roadless areas in at least #1-#3.Again, this meets the intent of the alternatives and the need-for-change. 4- Snowmobiling should be curtailed in all roadless areas in #1 and in roadless areas adjacent to designated wilderness in #2-3. 5- Make the forest Servcie re-think alternative #5 to reflect true rural demographics, not a few diehard sheepmen. The real Cache Co., UT or Uintah Co., WY are not represented in Alt. 5!
These are but a few ideas in this long and complex process. We urge you to take a few minutes to read this alert, think about the importance of the forest plan and make your wild voice heard. We really have no choice. With a meaningful set of alternatives the DEIS becomes a document that can move us toward an ecological view of the Wasatch-- not business-as-usual. <<Remember, SEPTEMBER 29: Bernie Weingardt, Forest Supervisor, Wasatch-Cache National Forest, Attn.: Revision Team, 8236 Federal Bldg., SLC, UT 84138 or on-line: firstname.lastname@example.org>>
THANK YOU SO MUCH FRIENDS!
Dick Carter High Uintas Preservation Council P.O. Box 72 Hyrum, UT 84319 435-245-6747