HIGH UINTAS PRESERVATION COUNCIL SPECIAL ALERT— MAY 2006
THE WILD NATURE OF THE HIGH UINTAS DEPENDS ON WHAT YOU TELL THE ASHLEY NATIONAL FOREST!
Your wild voice is needed, right now, and with passion. Comments on the early phase of the Ashley National Forest revised forest plan are due JUNE 5.
You may submit comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Note Ashley National Forest Plan Desired Condtions in the subject line! or the Ashley’s website at http://www.fs.fed.us/r4/ashley/projects/forest_plan_revision/comment_form.shtml
or by real mail to Ashley National Forest Plan Revision 355 N. Vernal Ave. Vernal, UT 84078
The Ashley National Forest (ANF) revised forest plan is officially underway (see HUPC LYNX 2/06.) Late in April the Forest held a workshop in Vernal to help describe desired future conditions for the forest. While the Forest can’t yet describe precisely what the revised forest plan will look like or even what is in the new version of forest plans, we do know the document will not be a formal Environmental Impact Statement nor will it likely analyze numerous different alternatives. Formal prescribed public involvement is no longer an emphasis—it will now be situational. The Ashley has promised, however, to make the process transparent and public involvement extensive. The revised forest planning process can be seen on the ANF website at: http://www.fs.fed.us/r4/ashley/projects/forest_plan_revision/forest_plan_home.shtml
You can also request this information from the Forest at the address above.
This first step, DESIRED FUTURE CONDITIONS, focuses on describing what places, activities and attributes should look like on the ANF. The Forest devised 5 “geographical” areas. These can be seen on the ANF website, http://www.fs.fed.us/r4/ashley/projects/forest_plan_revision/cer/geographic_areas.pdf, or you can request a map from the ANF. The five units are: 1) South Unit (Tavaputs Plateau between Duchesne and Price); 2) Eastern Uinta Mountains (EUM); 3) Western Uinta Mountains (WUM); 4)Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area (FGNRA); and 5) the High Uintas Wilderness Area (HUW). Admitting that the difference between the EUM and WUM is “obscure to the average forest user” (it is a vague, land type boundary), that it represents, in fact, resource character and capability, and that the FGNRA and HUW are legal definitions, there are, in fact, two geographical areas—Tavaputs Plateau, distinctly different from the High Uintas. Breaking the Uintas into “Western” and “Eastern” already describes Forest Service management intentions.
Urge the Forest Service to look at the Uinta Mountains as one geographical unit, the Tavaputs Plateau as another. This will assure a broad holistic ecological view rather than a pre-determined resource value (East Uintas means timber harvesting, snowmobiling, ATV use.) Since the geographical delineations on the Uintas are meaningless (of necessity, our comments will focus on the Uintas and the HUW), it is important to focus our comments on an ecological/preservation/restoration based desired condition. Any other vision simply results in a consistent downhill spiral where forests become more fragmented, less wild, deeply unraveled, and defined solely for the human project rather than defined in the sustaining ecological disturbances and evolutionary processes— the forest’s dance, if you will.
A sample letter might look like this:
Dear ANF: (Always introduce yourself, who you are, what you do, why your voice is important!)
Concerning the revised forest plan and this first step of defining desired conditions, please include these comments.
I (we) urge you to look at the Uinta Mountains as one geographical unit and the South Unit (the Tavaputs Plateau) as another. This will assure a broad, holistic, ecological view of the Uintas rather than pre-determined, resource values.
I (we) think you should focus your efforts on an ecological/preservation/restoration- based desired condition for the Ashley National Forest. Any other future results in a downhill spiral where forests become more fragmented, less and less wild.
For example, I (we) think the revised forest plan should maintain roadless characteristics and allow for natural ecological process to define this character on all Ashley roadless areas. All free flowing rivers and streams on the forest should be kept in that conditions and all eligible rivers under the Wild and Scenic River analysis should be formally identified as suitable for Wild and Scenic River status.
I (we) urge you to maintain and restore all viable native wildlife populations in natural patterns and distribution and should focus on protecting native species, including large carnivores and natural inherent ecological function. Non-native wildlife or fisheries have no place on the forest. I (we) hope you will consider establishing a watershed-based aquatic preserve that highlights protection of native cutthroat trout species.
Timber harvesting/vegetation treatments should be precluded from all roadless landscapes on the forest.
All domestic grazing should end in the High Uintas Wilderness and contiguous roadless areas within ten years. There should be no increase in grazing and all ungrazed areas should remain so. There should be no predator control in the High Uintas Wilderness.
The Ashley should adopt a desired condition that results in no snowmobiles or ATVs in roadless areas. It is crucial that the Ashley adopt a desired condition for the High Uintas Wilderness that results in wilderness defined by its wild, ecological values, not recreational opportunities.
Thank you for your consideration.