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TRAVEL PLAN FOR THE EVANSTON/MT.VIEW RANGER DISTRICTS

THE LONG AWAITED TRAVEL PLAN FOR THE EVANSTON/MT.VIEW RANGER DISTRICTS HAS BEEN RELEASED! DISCUSSION AND SUGGESTIONS FOR YOUR WRITTEN COMMENTS (DUE ON Oct. 16) FOUND BELOW.

The Wasatch-Cache National Forest has just extended the Evanston/Mt. View Travel Plan comment period to OCTOBER 16! Some local WY officials and the WY Farm Bureau requested this extension because hard workin’ farmers can’t focus on the forest plan, and travel plan until after the harvest season. While we all want long comment periods, this seems to be an overstatement and sets an expectation that the views of one group certainly are more important than the rest of us!

The long-awaited Wasatch-Cache National Forest Evanston/Mt. View (E/MV) Travel Plan and predecisional Environmental Assessment (EA) is finally out. Some of you participated in the first scoping of this proposal and are now 8 years older. That's right! This proposed travel plan was first scoped for revision in 1993 and the last public scoping occurred in 1999! But finally, we have it.

THIS IS ONE OF THE 4 OR 5 CRUCIAL ISSUES ON THE UINTAS THAT WILL ALLOCATE WILD LANDSCAPES TO EITHER WILDNESS OR DOMESTICATE THEM WITH THE ROAR OF MOTORS! The importance is obvious. We urge you to let the Forest Service hear your wild voice.

Comments are due October 16th and should be sent to Steve Ryberg (see address below.) The E/MV District has asked that comments use regular mail to assure they will be logged in properly! So put pen to paper, finger to keyboard and lick a stamp. Your voice is essential!

THE PROPOSAL

The Good... The Proposed Action closes the entire district to cross country motorized traffic, FINALLY! The Bear River Smiths Fork Trail from the Bear River to the East Fork Blacks is closed to all vehicles, FINALLY! Some 74,500 acres of the North Slope are closed to snowmobiling, most of it on the west side including considerable roadless acreage on the Bear River/Hayden Fork/Boundary Creek east to the East Fork Blacks Fork and about halfway down the Middle Fork Blacks Fork. Additional roadless lands on the West Fork Beaver Creek, Thompson Creek and Burnt Fork are closed! A number of winter wildlife areas are also closed.

And The Bad...354 miles of roads would be left open, 296 of those miles open to both street legal vehicles and all terrain vehicles (ATVs). Only a little over 20 miles of roads would be closed... and 165,000+ acres would be open to snowmobiles, even though at the present time only 56,000 acres are used by snowmobilers (Whitney area, Mill Creek and the North Slope road, East Fork road, Henrys Fork and Smiths Fork roaded areas.) Some of the roadless areas left open include much of the Middle Fork of the Blacks Fork, the Main Fork (Bear), the roadless portions of Smiths Fork, Henry s Fork, and lower West Fork Gilbert.

It is crucial to remember that the Uintas North Slope really consists of two places. North of the North Slope Road, generally, is heavily roaded, from .6 miles to 1.8 mile/sq. mile of land. South of the road is the roadless country and the High Uintas Wilderness (HUW). This clear demarcation should also be the distinction between motorized, human- defined landscape and the wildness south of the North Slope Road!

SUPPORT ALTERNATIVE C

The EA harbors Alternative C which generally implements this context. Alt. C closes ALL roadless areas to snowmobile use, reducing the currently used acres from 56,000 to 47,000 AND still leaving almost 82,000 acres of the North Slope open to snowmobile use! Most of the Whitney and Mill Creek areas would stay the same. The North's Slope Road and the many roads and openings north of the North Slope Road would still be open. Just over 50 miles of roads would be closed, leaving 325 miles of open roads with 264 open to ATVs as well! This would leave over 100 dispersed campsites on spur roads. More importantly, the Forest Service EA notes that Alt. C would:

  • reduce road densities, thus enhancing wildlife more than any other alternative!
  • increase vegetative cover, reduce erosion and reduce potential weed invasion more than any other alternative!
  • reduce snow compaction impacts upon vegetation more than any alternative!
  • protect water quality habitat and sensitive, native fisheries by reducing motorized stream crossings and roads adjacent (within 300 feet) to rivers more than any alternative!
  • have the fewest impacts to Canada lynx by reducing sensitive acres available to snow machines and closing roads in some sensitive potential lower elevation lynx habitat more than any alternative!
  • have no impacts on accessing the forest for recreation, leave over 100 dispersed semi-primitive motorized and isolated campsites, and allow snowmobiling on almost 82,000 acres.

It is a win-win alternative! But for reasons not explained in the EA, it was not selected by the FS.

WHAT TO DO BY OCTOBER 16 ON THE EVANSTON/ MT. VIEW RANGER DISTRICT TRAVEL PLAN

  1. WRITE A LETTER TO: Steve Ryberg, District Ranger Evanston/Mt. View Ranger District Wasatch-Cache National Forest P.O. Box 1880 Evanston, WY 82931-1880
  2. Support Alternative C. Explain why you think it is a better alternative. If you know the country, talk about your backcountry experiences in these places.
  3. Support the Forest Service on the good decisions they have made: ending motorized use on the 7.5 mile long Bear River Smiths Fork Trail, closure to motorized cross country travel and the good snowmobile closures on the tens of thousands of acres on the west side of the Uintas. Urge a closure of all roadless lands contiguous to the HUW south of the North Slope Road.

Let your WILD VOICE be heard!

Evanston/Mt. View Travel Plan

Evanston Travel Plan.gif (6536 bytes)


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