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MONTANA-Helena and Lewis & Clark NFs Announce Forest Plan Revision Community Conversation Workshops

October 22, 2015 7:22 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. The Forest Service has announced the next round of forest plan revision community workshops focusing on desired forest conditions. The objectives of the workshops are to: 1) Provide information on the forest plan rev

MONTANA-Helena and Lewis & Clark NFs Announce Forest Plan Revision Community Conversation Workshops

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.

The Forest Service has announced the next round of forest plan revision community workshops focusing on desired forest conditions. The objectives of the workshops are to: 1) Provide information on the forest plan revision process and an update on what the Helena and Lewis & Clark National Forests have accomplished to date, 2) Solicit public input and feedback on "desired conditions" for the forest and its resources and 3) Provide information about how to stay involved throughout the planning process.

The dates and locations of the upcoming workshops are listed below. 

Community
Workshop Location
 Date Time Venue
 Lincoln  Nov. 2, 2015 5 - 8 pm  Lincoln Community Center
 Stanford  Nov.3, 2015 5 - 8 pm Stanford City Hall
 Great Falls  Nov.4, 2015 5 - 8 pm C.M. Russell High School, cafeteria
 Browning  Nov.5, 2015 9 - 12 pm Blackfeet Community College,
Red Fox 102
Choteau  Nov.5, 2015 5 - 8 pm Stage Stop Inn
Augusta  Nov.6, 2015 9 - 12 pm Augusta Youth Center
Townsend  Nov.17, 2015 5 - 8 pm Townsend Library
White Sulphur Springs  Nov.18, 2015 9 - 12 pm WSS Community Training Center
Harlowton  Nov.18, 2015 5 - 8 pm Harlowton Library
Helena  Nov.19, 2015 5 - 8 pm MACO conf. room

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 roads 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 Helena and Lewis & Clark National Forests' 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. 2
 

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. The Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) season is here. Federal employees, please mark BlueRibbon Coalition and Check #11402 on your CFC pledge form to support our efforts to protect your access. Join us at 1-800-BLUERIB - www.sharetrails.org
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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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