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ACTION UPDATE: Projects of the High Uintas Preservation Council

There will be no issue more important than forest planning. It is that simple.

As you know, the Wasatch-Cache National Forest has finally engaged forest planning (for detailed background on forest planning, see The LYNX, 2/99). While we are at the first step, the Analysis of Management Situation (AMS), the schedule is vigorous: a proposal and alternatives by 10/99; the crucial Draft Environmental Impact Statement and decision (DEIS) by 3/00;and the Final EIS and decision (FEIS) by 12/00.

Forest Planning--Analysis of Management Situation and Roadless Inventory

In the last month HUPC did two alerts on three very important planning issues. We hope and encourage every HUPCer to put the proverbial pen to paper and get involved. While the comment period for the Analysis of Management Situation (Alert #1) ended on June 1 and the roadless inventory comment/workshop (Alert #2) period ended a week later, we still have a lot in front of us. Our voices carry the tune of wildness and assure the language of marten, wolverine, goshawk, moose, and mt. lion are not made soundless by the buzz and din of whining ATVs and snowmobiles, growling chainsaws, rumbling road graders and the munching of cows and sheep!

Evanston/Mt. View Ranger Districts--North Slope Travel Plan

Part of these alerts focused on the early scoping stages of the Evanston Travel Plan, which we hoped you jumped on as well! It proposed to close the Bear River Smiths Fork Trail to motorized vehicles, a long sought and critical closure. It is the only trail on the Uintas roadless area still open to motorized access! While the travel plan also proposed a number of important snowmobile closures on critical winter ranges on the northern portion of the Evan-ston/Mt. View Ranger District, it tragically opened the high country on the Middle Fork of the Blacks Fork and Cataract Basin adjacent to the High Uintas Wilderness to snowmobile use, thus assuring the impacts to winter wildlife and perpetuating inviting snowmobiles to head into the most wild portions of the wilderness!

Why not Design with Nature, to borrow from the title of Ian McHarg s classic book, and simply allow the roadless areas adjacent to the wilderness to be without roads and motors? To be the silent home for critters that dont know snowmobiles and live with the silence of an ecological and evolutionary dance. With this wild area closed to snowmobile, the District would still harbor thousands and thousands of acres for big and little kids and their big roaring toys screaming me, me, me!

Limekiln Timber Sale

The Roosevelt Ranger District on the Ashley National Forest is proposing to harvest timber in the LimekilnTimber Sale near McKune Lake due to a windstorm which toppled most of the trees in a 30 acre forested stand back in October 1997.

We, of course, have asked the Forest Service what is wrong with wind damage? Windstorms of this type are part and parcel of the forest environment. They are with-in the norm of historical variability. By definition they can t propel a system outside of its properly functioning condition. Forests exist because of pathogens, wind, fires, insects. Wind is the engine of an integral forest!

So we ve asked the Forest Service, If you don t harvest, what impacts will there be with the exception of not providing wood products? What negative ecological impacts would occur if the sale were not logged? What wildlife species will be harmed if the area is not logged? How important are these wood products--what does this salvage sale add to the wood product market? What are the economics of this sale? What are the impacts to soil resources, insects and small mammals and birds, including goshawk and lynx, that benefit from these natural activities? How will removing all of the trees on this 30 acre site effect ... wildlife species? We look forward to seeing some data, not just hollow assertions.

We continue to be stunned by this obsession with timber harvesting. The Ashley speaks the words surrounding ecosystem management, but when faced with practicing and implementing the concepts and context of landscape/ecosystem management, it seems to crawl backward to timber, timber, timber.

Weber Cattle Grazing Allotment

The Kamas District has released the Weber RiverCattle Allotment Predecisional EA.

We have to admit being a bit disappointed with the EA in that the Kamas District set a commendable and high standard with the detailed preparation of the Kamas Cattle Allotments EIS. This EA is, we re afraid, a bit too cursory and rather thin on data, analysis and conclusions.

Having said that, it is also clear, based on the data provided and the resultant analysis, that Alternative 2, Rest Rotation, not Alternative 1, Deferred Rotation (the F.S. Preferred Alternative), best responds to the issues identified as needing correction, including riparian conditions, upland grazing deterioration, noxious weeds, and, the most threatened of ecosystems, the tall forb communities of the middle elevations on the Uintas. Because the tall forb community is one of the most threatened communities on the Uintas, grazing simply must be eliminated from those communities. The EA also fails to deal with goshawk conditions--deteri-orated rangelands have been shown to directly affect goshawk populations because the primary prey species depend upon rich ground cover-- and harbors very little information on wildlife.

The EA concedes the last range analysis was completed 39 years ago in 1960! But, in spite of these shortcomings it is clear the alternative not chosen, Alternative 2, Rest Rotation, is the better choice, Fewer cattle would be allowed on the rangelands with a greater emphasis on solving the problems generated by cattle grazing. Of extreme importance, the decision must end grazing in the riparian areas, tall forb communities, and in the Nobletts and Swift Canyon areas where noxious weeds have gained a stronghold due to overgrazing.

Utah Wildlife Federation Conference

On May 1 HUPC Coordinator Dick Carter and Board Member Margaret Pettis participated in two panel discussions at the annual Utah Wildlife Federation Conference in SLC. Dick joined Barrie Gilbert, Bill Newmark, Robert Schmidt, Bill Burbridge and John Kimball for a lively discussion of the implications and realities of establishing wildlife preserves in Utah. Margaret joined panelists including Wildlife Board member Rick Danvir to discuss ways to improve the role of the RACs in wildlife management.

While the conference attendance was light, topics were germane and provided a much needed discussion.

Dick Carter

Margaret Pettis

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