ACTION UPDATE: Projects of the High Uintas Preservation Council
On a snowy February afternoon Sean Kearney and Dick Carter met in Kamas with Jane Cottrell, Kamas District Ranger, Steve Ryberg, Evanston District Ranger, and Mead Hargis, Kamas District Natural Resource Specialist, to discuss the context and concepts of the proposed Mirror Lake Highway recreation analysis (see article on snowmobile permit appeal resolution in this issue). It was clearly a productive discussion-- one of many yet to come with numerous interests--as to how to get the plan initiated and how to make sure it is responsive to the concerns identified. Soon, the Forest Service will publicly and formally set it in motion.
MONTHLY MEETING WITH THE WASATCH
At the March Wasatch-Cache National Forest breakfast meeting at Lambs Cafe, Steve Ryberg, Evanston District Ranger, assured everybody that the long awaited travel plan would be out in April. After years in preparation, this plan will determine where motorized summer and winter use will be allowed. The outline of the preferred alternative looks hopeful!
He also confirmed the equally long awaited West Fork Blacks Fork grazing decision will be out early in the summer. On that front, it does not look as hopeful.
On another note he confirmed that three snowmobilers were nabbed/ticketed by Forest Service officials this winter as they buzzed out of the High Uintas Wilderness near Gilbert Creek.
Pam Gardiner, Wasatch N. F. Supervisor, confirmed the draft Environmental Impact Statement for the forest plan is due early in May. There exists no doubt this is the single most important issue we will face as it will determine the next decade on the Uintas: will they become, as our vision holds, a mountain defined by the creation of life, not the production of resources, or nothing but business as usual-- a mountain of outputs and resources.
HARVEST ON THE ASHLEY
The Ashley National Forest has proposed a small ponderosa pine timber harvest/thinning proposal on Dowd Mt. in the Flaming Gorge area and Dry Gulch on the Duchesne Ranger District. While the proposals are small, we have questions about whether these thinnings are meant to achieve an integral natural historic range of variability or some artificially defined and constantly changing management context of "recreation, wildfire and historic values."
The initial scoping proposal failed to consider prescribed fire as well!
There is more and more evidence that the idealized, management-based context of an open parkland ponderosa forest is just that idealized and that the natural ecological range of variability was much different, encompassing dense multi-aged/storied forests.
Aside from that, it is clear from the scoping document and from the history of both areas that, like far too much of the Ashley National Forest, the Forest Service has been tinkering with these systems to achieve various objectives, almost always in the name of mirroring some natural processes. The Ashley has changed the tinkering over the years to justify the objectives and changed the objectives to justify the tinkering. Ecological process, rehabilitation and restoration have never been considered.