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MONTANA - Helena and Lewis & Clark NFs Announce Forest Plan Revision Open House Schedule

July 30, 2015 10:03 PM

The Helena and Lewis & Clark National Forests have begun revising their Forest Plans. Information on the Forest planning process and how to become involved can be found on the Forests Plan Revision website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/hlc/forestplanrevision. It will be updated and revised as new information becomes available. Everyone interested in planning for the future of the Helena and Lewis & Clark National Forests

MONTANA - Helena and Lewis & Clark NFs Announce Forest Plan Revision Open House Schedule

Dear BRC Action Alert Subscriber,

The Helena and Lewis & Clark National Forests have begun revising their Forest Plans. Information on the Forest planning process and how to become involved can be found on the Forests Plan Revision website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/hlc/forestplanrevision. It will be updated and revised as new information becomes available.

Everyone interested in planning for the future of the Helena and Lewis & Clark National Forests is invited to attend upcoming Community Conversations on Forest Plan Revision.  The purposes of these meetings are 1) to inform and update participants about the Forest Plan revision process and 2) get people talking about preliminary "needs to change" from existing forest guidance and management practices.

The Forest Service is asking participants to please RSVP so that they can plan accordingly, although this is not required. You may do so by calling Ashley Hunting at 406-495-3712.

Here is the schedule for the upcoming community conversations on the need to change: 

Location  Date & Time Address  Map
Stanford  August 10, 2015
6-9 pm 
Stanford City Hall
102 Central Ave
Stanford, MT 
Map 
Great Falls  August 11, 2015
5-8 pm 
 Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center
4201 Giant Springs Road
Great Falls, MT
Map
Browning  August 12, 2015
5-8 pm 
Blackfeet Community College
Beaver Painted Lodge Building
504 SE Boundary Street
Browning, MT 
Map
 Choteau August 13, 2015
5-8 pm 
Stage Stop Inn
1005 Main Ave N
Choteau, MT 
Map
Augusta  August 14, 2015
9-11 am 
Augusta Youth Center
132 Main St
Augusta, MT 
Map 
White Sulphur Springs  August 17, 2015
5 - 8 pm 
WSS District office
204 W Folsom
White Sulphur Springs, MT 
Map 
Harlowton  August 17, 2015
5 - 8 pm 
Musselshell Ranger District
809 2nd Street NW
Harlowton, MT 
Map
 Townsend  August 18, 2015
5 - 8 pm
Townsend Library
201 N Spruce St
Townsend, MT 
Map
 Helena August 19, 2015
5 - 8 pm 
MACO conf. room
2715 Skyway Dr
Helena, MT 
Map
 Lincoln August 20, 2015
5 - 8 pm 
 Lincoln Community Center
1569 Hwy 200
Lincoln, MT
Map - N/A

If not already part of the current plan, BRC believes the agency should develop travel management strategies.  Here are several concepts that should be included in the forest plan revision process:

ML 3 Roads to Trails - Reclassify ML3 roads to ML2 roads. Reclassify ML2 road to motorized trails or manage appropriate ML2 roads as "roads managed as trails." Manage appropriate ML1 roads as "motorized trails."

ML 2 Roads to Trails - Convert "roads-to-single track trails" or "roads-to-motorized trails less than 50 inches in width" and "roads managed as motorized trails greater than 50 inches in width" as a tool to help the agency achieve its budget objectives while still providing a substantive and high quality recreational route network.

Single Track Trails - 2005 Forest Service Travel Management Rule (TMR) Subpart B planning efforts in California and other Western States resulted in the loss of many, if not most, of our historic single-track motorcycle trails. Historic and legal motorized single-track opportunities such as enduro trails, old pack-mule/mining or pioneer trails were simply eliminated from consideration due to time constraints.

During those early planning efforts, agency representatives promised the OHV community that once these initial "foundational" route networks were established and codified that they would work with the users to either bring some of these historic single-track opportunities "back onto the system" or construct new engineered single-track system trails.

BRC believes that a strategy should be developed to replace the lost single- track experience. Retention or enhancement of high quality single-track dirt-bike trails is no different than keeping or enhancing "quiet" single-track hiking, equestrian, and mountain-bike trails.

Wet Weather Closures - Any TMR-based wet weather closure strategy should allow for native surfaced trails and roads to be open when soil conditions/lack-of-rainfall permits. If a wet weather closure is needed, the implementing Forest Order should be for the shortest period of time rather than a longer time period. In NEPA, it is always easier to extend a short closure versus repealing a longer closure.

Mitigate Trail Impacts from Non - Recreation Projects - The impacts from non-recreation projects often include obliteration of the trail or removal of water control structures such as rolling dips and catch basins.  Those soil erosion measures can often cost $15,000 to $20,000/mile to install (or replace). Other sections such as at-risk species, water quality, and ecosystems have the same recreation mitigation deficiencies. BRC recommends that "trail mitigation" guidelines be added to relevant non-recreation projects.

Review non-motorized land designations - BRC believes the Forest should review current non-Wilderness areas that could be reclassified, reopened, or have cherry-stemmed routes designated for connectivity and/or touring opportunities.  Many 1980-1990s-era Forest Plans used non-Wilderness "non-motorized" classifications to restrict or prohibit summer wheeled recreation. In many cases, OHV was simply not at the table or given substantive consideration during these programmatic planning efforts. In some areas these classifications such as "Near Natural" or "Semi-Primitive Non-Motorized" had the effect of functionally banning OHV use including designation of cherry-stemmed routes. The Forest Plan Revision process is the appropriate planning tool to reclassify lands for managed OHV recreation.

For additional information about the HLC Forest Plan revision process and how interested members of the public can participate, contact Erin Swiader, Forest Plan Revision Team Lead at (406) 495-3774, or go to the plan revision website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/hlc/forestplanrevision.

Thanks in advance and, as always, if you have any questions or concerns, please contact BRC.

Ric Foster
Public Lands Department Manager
BlueRibbon Coalition
208-237-1008 ext 107
 

The BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC) is a national non-profit organization that champions responsible recreation and encourages a strong conservation ethic and individual stewardship, while providing leadership in efforts to keep outdoor recreation alive and well -- all sports; all trails. With members in all 50 states, BRC is focused on building enthusiast involvement with organizational efforts through membership, outreach, education
and collaboration among recreationists.
1-800-BLUERIB - www.sharetrails.org

_______________________________________________________

As a non-profit, grassroots organization funded primarily by membership dues and donations, we greatly appreciate your support. Visit http://archive.sharetrails.org/make-a-difference-now to help fund our efforts to protect your trails!

  

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