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HIGH UINTAS PRESERVATION COUNCIL ACTION ALERT--WILDERNESS EVALUATION DEADLINE: 13 OCTOBER 2006

TELL THE ASHLEY N. F. THAT THE WILD UINTAS SHOULD REMAIN JUST THAT!

As part of the ongoing Ashley National Forest revised forest planning process, the Ashley has released a draft report, Evaluation of Undeveloped Areas for Potential Wilderness.

This follows a preliminary draft back in July and not surprisingly has gone backward! You can find the report on the Ashley’s website:

http://www.fs.fed.us/r4/ashley/projects/forest_plan_revision/draft_wilderness_evaluation_report/draftwer.shtml

or you can obtain it from the Ashley National Forest, 355 N. Vernal Ave., Vernal, UT 84078.

IT IS AN UNDERSTATEMENT THAT YOUR COMMENTS ARE CRUCIAL!
LET YOUR WILD VOICE SING!

Submit your comments by October 13 to:
Rick Peaveler, rpeaveler@fs.fed.us.
Make sure in the subject line you note Undeveloped Areas Evaluation.
or mailed to:
Ashley National Forest
Attn: Planning, Undeveloped Areas Evaluation
355 North Vernal Avenue
Vernal, UT 84078

  • This is the basis for what the upcoming forest plan will recommend for wilderness designation.
  • This is the proverbial place for hundreds of HUPC voices to speak for wilderness.
  • For a more detailed review of this issue and a map of the High Uintas Preservation Council proposed High Uintas Wilderness, see the last HUPC LYNX, 8/08.
The PROPOSAL

The Ashley has identified 37 roadless areas on the forest. It has proposed that only FOUR have values high enough to be considered for wilderness evaluation and recommendation:

  • North Slope High Country- 40,573 acres. The magnificent drainages of Sheep Creek, Weyman Park and Lamb Lakes define this area, which is contiguous to the High Uintas Wilderness, the South Slope High Country, and the roadless Burnt Fork/ Kabell Creek drainages on the North Slope of the Wasatch-Cache National Forest.
  • South Slope High Country- 85,024 a. Like the North Slope High Country, of which this is a part, merely on the South Slope, it is the quintessential “bollies”-- rounded alpine peaks, dense forests and high glacial basins of the West and East Forks of the Whiterocks, Blanchett Park, upper Dry Fork, Lakeshore Basin, the lonely Lake Wilde, and Marsh Peak. It is also contiguous to the High Uintas Wilderness, the lower Whiterocks, a portion of the lower Dry Fork and High Uintas B.
  • High Uintas B- 46,413 a. Contiguous for 20+ miles with the High Uintas Wilderness and South Slope High Country, this is the epitome of rugged, incised, dense forested canyons and high elevation ridgetops on the Uinta and Yellowstone River drainages, including one of the most wild canyons on the South Slope-- Crow Canyon.
  • Ashley Gorge- 31,869 a. The stunning gorge of Ashley Creek and Black Canyon represents diverse lower elevation forested country on the South Slope.
The GOOD STUFF

The roadless inventory itself is notable with about 678,000 acres of roadless areas identified-- 523,000 on the Uintas (313,000 acres adjacent and contiguous with the 460,000 acre High Uintas Wilderness) and 155,000 acres on the detached South Unit between Duchesne and Price.

The BAD, UGLY AND DOWNRIGHT DISINGENUOUS

The Ashley N. F. has broken the single most important rule in analyzing these roadless areas for potential wilderness--it has taken a single, massive, roadless area and fragmented it into tiny, arbitrary, separate units that automatically diminish and bias its inherent wilderness/wild value. This practice was abandoned back in 1972 and shows just how far back the Ashley has reached to bias wilderness character!

Five roadless areas are indisputably one, all with contiguous boundaries to one another and the High Uintas Wilderness (HUW):

  • North Slope High Country, South Slope High Country, High Uintas B, Roadshed (description below) and the Lower Whiterocks (description below). Furthermore, units referred to as High Uintas A and C (descriptions below), while not contiguous to these areas, have a common boundary with the HUW! The fact is these seven areas have a common boundary with the HUW--they are a single unit encompassing and contiguous to the HUW, flowing north and south out of the east-west HUW. A single massive roadless area on both the Wasatch-Cache and Ashley National Forests, north and south slopes, envelopes the HUW!
  • Roadshed- 37,805 a. This is the “elephant’s trunk” extending from Leidy Peak on the west some 15 miles eastward including Eagle, Elk, Lake, and Burnt Creeks. It is one of the last mid- elevation contiguous stands of old forest left on the east end of the Uintas and is recognized for its wildlife and fisheries. In the preliminary report, this area was found to have a high rating for potential wilderness!
  • Lower Whiterocks- 32,611 a. Deeply incised and convoluted canyon of the Whiterocks River. Forested slopes, open parklands along portions of the river and steep cliffsides dominate this wild country. It is contiguous and part and parcel of the Whiterocks drainage in the South Slope High Country.
  • High Uintas A- 21,669 a. This is the steep forested country on both sides of Moon Lake including Slate Creek and marvelous, meadow-dotted Fish Creek. The entire area is contiguous to the High Uintas Wilderness as well as Brown Duck Basin and the high plateau of Toquer Lake.
  • High Uintas C- 48,851 a. This country is as steep, isolated and diverse as any on the Uintas. It consists of peaks near 12,000’, numerous supalpine lakes rarely ever visited, deep canyons of old growth pine and spruce, and open sage and aspen parklands at 6,000’ elevation. The entire boundary is contiguous to the High Uintas Wilderness and High Uintas A from Brown Duck Basin to the Grandview Trailhead and the Duchesne River-- well over 15 miles!
    This single area (or SEVEN, in the distorted view of the Ashley) cradles nearly 313,000 acres, making it one of the largest single roadless areas in the lower ’48!

YOUR WILD VOICE MUST SING

  • Fully and vigorously support the areas with a high wilderness rating, including Roadshed, Lower Whiterocks and the units dubbed High Uintas A and C. All are contiguous to one another and have a common boundary with the High Uintas Wilderness. They represent one massive, intact, roadless landscape, part and parcel with the HUW. The massive size and biodiversity within these areas assure they offer--have no choice but to offer--outstanding opportunities for solitude, primitive recreation and wildness. Write this with vigor and vitality!
  • The ecological value of roadless landscapes can’t be overstated or overlooked. Almost every roadless area on the Ashley is immediately adjacent to other roadless areas, usually separated by backcountry dirt roads. This makes these areas exceptionally important as the landscape is dominated by undeveloped roadless areas, not isolated roadless landscapes. Almost all of these areas are mid-elevation, making them exceptionally important in an ecological context.
  • Tell the Ashley a bit about yourself and family. If you know these areas, say so!

A letter to Forest Supervisor Kevin Elliott (address at top of this alert) might look like this:

Dear Mr. Elliott:

Please accept these comments on the Evaluation of Undeveloped Areas for Potential Wilderness on the Ashley National Forest.

Insert something about your love of the Uintas and wildness, who you are and why you care about the Uintas being wild!

While the roadless inventory was notable, the areas determined to be capable for wilderness simply do not represent what is on the ground. Arbitrarily fragmenting a single roadless area into smaller areas is disingenuous and detracts from the remarkable size and ecological diversity of the area. Looking at the actual roadless area and its size and diversity clearly would enhance the capability rating. Without any doubt, these five areas-Roadshed, North Slope High Country, South Slope High Country, High Uintas B and the Lower Whiterocks-are all a single roadless area contiguous to one another and the High Uintas Wilderness, accounting for a single massive undeveloped landscape of over 242,000 acres! High Uintas A and C are both contiguous to one another and the High Uintas Wilderness; they represent a single area of 70,520 acres ranging in elevation from sage and aspen slopes at 6,000 feet to alpine cirques!

The simple matter of fact is the roadless country surrounding the High Uintas Wilderness is a single landscape, all of it literally contiguous to the High Uintas Wilderness flowing north and south out of the Uintas. When looked at as the single undeveloped landscape it is, one can only marvel at the unique opportunity the Forest Service has to preserve one of the largest undeveloped areas in the lower ’48!

It is also noteworthy to remember almost all of the roadless areas on the Ashley are immediately adjacent to one another, separated only by lightly used backcountry routes, making roadlessness and undeveloped landscapes the dominant feature and so important from an ecological perspective.

Please keep us posted as this process moves along.

Sincerely,


Please sing with a wild voice!

Dick Carter
High Uintas Preservation Council
PO Box 72
Hyrum, UT 84319
hupc.org

Imagine a mountain defined by the creation of life, not the production of resources.


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