ACTION UPDATE: Projects of the High Uintas Preservation Council
Wasatch-Cache National Forest Plan
The all important Wasatch-Cache National Forest Plan (see HUPC LYNX 6/99 ,8/99, 10/99, 12/99 and 10/00) is slowly evolving into shape-- what shape is still yet unseen. The draft Environmental Impact Statement and Forest Plan is due no later than early May.
The importance of this decision can't be overstated. So far the process has been open. But the content has not always been clear-- while the Forest Service and document narratives so far released and discussed have focused on broad ecological issues and principles, the proposed alternatives have mirrored traditional management scenarios of downplaying the value of wilderness and roadless areas while enhancing the recreational activities, particularly snowmobiling in wild backcountry such as the Lakes/Mt. Watson area. The Wasatch still has the chance to implement the new language of forest ecological integrity (see LYNX, 10/00). Business as usual is hopeless.
Evanston Ranger District West Fork Black's Fork Sheep Grazing and Travel Plan
We still await the Evanston Ranger District's West Fork Blacks Fork sheep grazing decision (see LYNX 4/99). This will be the beginning of significant grazing reform on the forest or, once again, the hopelessness of business as usual. We have bee n promised a final decision in 2001 January...
...And about the same time we should see the Evanston Ranger District's long awaited Travel Plan (see HUPC LYNX 6/99). Along with the forest plan this document will determine whether the roadless areas contiguous to the High Uintas Wilderness will be closed to motorized vehicles.
Snowmobiling Outfitting and Guiding
Unfortunately, the Kamas and Evanston Ranger District's released the final Environmental Assessment and decision on allowing increased snowmobiling outfitting and guiding (see HUPC LYNX 10/00) with no changes from the proposed action which authorizes 800 service days of outfitted and guided snowmobiling on and around the Mirror Lake Highway and Whitney Road. The Forest Service suggests the proposal is necessary to end illegal outfitting and guiding and to obtain assistance in maintaining parking and other facilities for snowmobilers. This is done without any assurance that there will be no new or additional outfitting and guiding, which is the rule once it is set in motion, and without even a half sincere effort at establishing a skeleton of a winter recreation plan for the Mirror Lake Highway where up to 30,000 snowmobiles roar up and down the road, with increasing numbers heading illegally into the backcountry. We are looking at an appeal of this decision.
Mountain Goat Introductions
Late in November we met to further resolve the mt. goat issue with Kathleen Clarke, Director of the Utah Dept. of Natural Resources, Hugh Thompson, Deputy Director,and UDWR Director John Kimball as well as an earlier session with Deputy Regional Forester Jack Troyer, Chris Pyron and staff.