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DESIRED FUTURE CONDITIONS ON THE ASHLEY

The Ashley National Forest plan revision is underway with the first major hurdle initiated—desired future conditions (see HUPC Special Alert May 2006.)

In detailed comments, we suggested the Ashley not fragment the forest into an eastern and western Uintas; a desired condition must be built systematically and holistically across the Uintas.

As to desired conditions, our comments were specific to indisputable broad ecological themes, which highlight the only sustainable future for the forest and the communities which define and are defined by the forest.

These are our major concerns.

ROADLESS AREAS

  • Maintain roadless characteristics on all identified Forest Service roadless inventory areas.
    • No road construction, temporary or permanent.
    • No timber harvests, commercial or non-commercial.
    • No oil and gas leasing (NL.) No surface drilling permits or surface occupancy should be allowed on any extant leases within roadless areas. As leases terminate, they should not be re-offered.
    • Sustain ecological disturbance and evolutionary processes within their geographic natural history/ variability.

WILDERNESS RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Recommend high quality roadless areas, about 190,000 acres on the Ashley, as additions to the High Uintas Wilderness.

WILD AND SCENIC RIVERS

  • Determine as suitable for inclusion in the Wild & Scenic River System all 24 rivers (320 miles) determined to be eligible by the Ashley along with Swift Creek.

WILDERNESS MANAGEMENT

  • Allow natural processes to be untrammeled.
    • Phase out all non-native fish stocking within the High Uintas Wilderness.
    • End the introduction of all non-native terrestrial wildlife in the High Uintas Wilderness.
    • re-introduce and establish native species.
    • Allow all natural fires to burn.
    • End all predator control within the High Uintas Wilderness.
  • Manage non-conforming wilderness uses consistent with wilderness values.
    • Phase out all wilderness reservoirs over the next 10 years.
    • Phase out all domestic grazing over the next 10 years.
  • Seek the highest level of wilderness purity throughout the High Uintas Wilderness.
    • Remove all user-created trails;
    • Maintain all trail-less areas as trail-less;
    • Continue campfire closures;
    • Restrict user groups to 10 or fewer people.
  • Update and re-do the extant, out-of-date High Uintas Wilderness Plan, focusing on the characteristics of the Wilderness Act.
    • Untrammeled—“an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man…;”
    • Natural—“protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions…” and “land retaining its primeval character and influence;”
    • Undeveloped—“without permanent improvements or human habitation...” “with the imprint of man’s work substantially unnoticeable...” “where man himself is a visitor who does not remain;” and
    • “Outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation… shall be administered …in such a manner as will leave them unimpaired for future use and enjoyment as wilderness.”

WILDLIFE

  • Manage within ecological/ecosystem principles rather than extractive/sustained yield/consumptive recreation standards.
  • Restore native extirpated and rare/sensitive/threatened species to the High Uintas ecosystem, including wolverine, lynx, wolf, Colorado and Bonneville cutthroat trout, and determine the feasibility for re-introduction of the grizzly bear.
  • Designate a watershed-based aquatic preserve on both the North and South Slopes, highlighting the indicator species of the native Bonneville and Colorado Cutthroat trout.
  • Designate an ecosystem-based wildlife preserve within the High Uintas ecosystem, focusing primarily on wild, roadless and undeveloped portions.
  • Phase out all non-native fish stocking in the High Uintas Wilderness.
  • End the introduction of all non-native terrestrial wildlife within the High Uintas ecosystem, particularly within the High Uintas Wilderness and surrounding roadless lands.

TIMBER

  • Conform all timber harvesting operation with broad landscape and ecological principles, allowing natural ecological disturbance regimes such as fire, insects, pathogens and other natural events to define timber management goals and forest succession.
    • There should be no timber harvesting on any roadless area.
    • Close all logging roads to motorized travel and rehabilitate them within three years.

GRAZING

  • Conform all range management with broad landscape and ecological principles allowing natural ecological disturbance regimes such as fire, insects, pathogens and other natural events to define range management goals and vegetation succession.
    • Phase out all livestock grazing in the High Uintas Wilderness and contiguous roadless areas over the next ten years to maintain wild characteristics and natural ecological flows.
    • Maintain all ungrazed areas on the High Uintas Ecosystem.
    • All grazing conflicts with native wildlife should be resolved in favor of native wildlife viability and ecological integrity.
    • Eliminate all predator control within the High Uintas Wilderness and contiguous roadless lands. Focus predator control as non-lethal actions or on “offending” individuals” on the rest of the ecosystem.

DEVELOPED/MOTORIZED RECREATION

  • ATV/OHV use should be confined to inventoried backcountry roads and the already existing designated ATV/OHV trails.
    • Roadless areas should be off limits to all snowmobile and ATV/ OHV use.

    Jeep by M. Pettis


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