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SAWS News: Beaverhead Deerlodge National Forest Record of Decision

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Old 03-10-2009
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Default SAWS News: Beaverhead Deerlodge National Forest Record of Decision

811,200 acres closed to snowmobiles



The Record of Decision (ROD) for the Beaverhead Deerlodge National Forest (BDNF) was released February 20, 2009, and I must say that I am very disappointed in the final results of the ROD for this Forest Plan Revision. Not only am I disappointed in the disgusting fact that 811,200 acres of this 3.3 plus million acre forest will now be closed to winter motorized recreation as of March 23, 2009, but I am also very disappointed that so few snowmobilers out west bothered to even submit a comment letter during the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). Recall that SAWS did send out two SAWS Alerts requesting that comments be submitted during the spring of 2008.

Here is a link to one of our SAWS Alerts regarding this issue from last spring:
http://www.snowmobile-alliance.org/A..._BDNF_FEIS.htm

Is the lack of comment letters submitted by snowmobilers for this Forest Plan Revision an indication that the BDNF in southwestern Montana is not too important as a riding area to most snowmobilers out west?

I would like to thank all of our members that did submit a comment letter requesting that snowmobile use not be further restricted in this forest.

Here is a link to the BDNF Plan Revision Main page:
http://fs.usda.gov/wps/portal/!ut/p/...st-%20Planning

On the positive side

Mt. Jefferson (southern portion) will remain open to snowmobile use at least for now, as long as snowmobilers respect the non-motorized boundaries. We shall see how long this popular snowmobile area remains open. The plan states:
"The combination of uses allowed on Mt. Jefferson under the Revised Forest Plan represents a management challenge, because the boundary between the motorized and non-motorized use areas does not follow an effective topographical barrier to illegal motorized entry. The success of this compromise decision relies heavily on voluntary compliance with recommended wilderness boundaries by over-snow vehicle users. The Monitoring Plan spells out monitoring protocols that address compliance with restrictions on motorized use in high elevation wildlife habitat, including Mt. Jefferson. If monitoring reveals that non-compliance is an issue, the decision to allow snowmobiling on Mt Jefferson will be re-evaluated."

On the negative side

Previous plan: 84 percent (2,839,200 acres) was open to snowmobile use during the winter. 174,000 acres were recommended for wilderness.

New plan: 60 percent (2,028,000 acres) are open to snowmobiles. This is 811,200 fewer acres open to snowmobile use than were open in the previous plan. 322,000 acres are now recommended for wilderness with this ROD.

From the BDNF website:

“The Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest includes parts of two wildernesses, the Lee Metcalf (102,064 acres within the Beaverhead-Deerlodge) and the Anaconda-Pintler (117,598 acres within the Beaverhead-Deerlodge). Together these two areas preserve nearly 219,662 acres of the American West.”

219,662 (existing wilderness acres) + 322,000 (recommended wilderness acres) = 541,662 acres that will be managed as wilderness with this ROD.

To read comments submitted on this FEIS, the full report (3,500 pages) is available at http://www.commentpro.com/ and may be viewed by anyone. To sign in use "public" in the email box and "access" as the password. To request the report on CD-Rom. Call (406) 683-3900 or write Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, 420 Barrett St., Dillon, MT 59725, or send an email to lmagnuson@fs.fed.us.

My quick review of the submitted comment letters came up with the following unpleasant results:

State-----Number of comments----Anti-snowmobile----Pro-snowmobile----Comment Letter #
WA--------14-----------------------6------------------8---------------#872 = WSSA Land Use Chair
OR---------0
ID----------21----------------------8------------------13---------------#22 = BRC/TSA; #844 = ISSA Public Lands Chair
MT---------231-------------------Did not review--------Did not review--- #23 = SAWS; #43 = CBU
CA----------7-----------------------7--------------------0
CO----------1-----------------------1--------------------0
WY----------3-----------------------2--------------------1
UT-----------3----------------------1---------------------2-------------#16 = USA

Note: 2247 comment letters received. 339 mention the string "snowmobil" without the "e". This allowed the word "snowmobile" and "snowmobiling" to both be returned in the same search.



At this time, SAWS is planning to appeal this ROD. We assume our appeal will be denied. The only other action left would be to file a lawsuit against the ROD. I believe our appeal should be based on the fact that this forest plan closes all recommended wilderness areas to snowmobile use, creating de-facto wilderness where only Congress is legally allowed to do so. This concern was reflected in our SAWS comment letter where we stated:

“As stated in the BDNF FEIS executive summary: 'Recommended Wilderness: In all action alternatives, motorized travel is restricted in recommended wilderness. Forest Service policy, FSM 1923.03 (2) states any area recommended for Wilderness is not available for any use or activity that may reduce the area’s Wilderness potential. This national policy allows each forest to determine, through the land management planning process, the uses best suited to protect an area’s Wilderness potential.' ”

"SAWS disagrees with the direction chosen by Region 1 as many studies have proven the use of snowmobiles over a layer of snow leaves virtually no evidence of disturbance once the snow has melted. FSM 1923.03 also states the National Forest Service policy applying to RWA’s, as 'Activities currently permitted may continue, pending designation, if the activities do not compromise wilderness values of the potential wilderness area'. Snowmobile use does not 'compromise wilderness values' or degrade wilderness character of the land. There is no Forest Service policy, directive or existing law that would prevent winter motorized recreation on snowmobiles from continuing to be allowed in RWA’s. If snowmobile use is currently allowed in areas that may be recommended for wilderness in the future, then obviously this use did not diminish the wilderness value of these areas. Snowmobile use continues to be allowed in Region 6 RWA’s and other regions throughout the US."


As most of you know, SAWS does not have a legal staff that can take on a lawsuit on our own, so we are contemplating joining with another pro-access group called Citizens for Balanced Use (CBU) out of Gallatin Gateway MT (http://www.citizensforbalanceduse.com/) if legal action is determined to needed and if we believe we have a valid claim, which I believe we do. If we go this route, SAWS will need to pitch in thousands of dollars for legal costs. We have saved up donated funds from our members over the last few years that we could use for this effort, but I need to know if our members wish to pursue this course of action – especially given the lack of comment letters submitted by our members.

Please let me know if we should just live with this ROD, or appeal the decision and plan to spend our members donated funds to join CBU and fight this ROD in court.


Sincerely,

Dave Hurwitz
Snowmobile Alliance of Western States

Copyright 2009, Snowmobile Alliance of Western States(SAWS) . All Rights Reserved. Permission is granted to distribute this information, in whole or in part, as long as SAWS is acknowledged as the source. If you are not yet a member of SAWS, and would like receive our emails, please sign up on our web site today. SAWS is Free to join! http://www.snowmobile-alliance.org
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Old 03-10-2009
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Wow, I'm sorry to hear that.
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Old 03-10-2009
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If you look at the numbers, we can't expect to retain our areas if we don't respond and make our voice heard.


As a Note: It's NOT required that you be from the mountains to join SAWS and Help Protect Our Right to Ride.
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Glory fades,
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Snowmobile Alliance of Western States Cutting Through Deceptions and Perceptions To Protect YOUR RIGHT To Ride.
BlueRibbon Coalition Preserving Our Natural Resource FOR The People Instead of FROM The People


http://www.mtn-paradise.com



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Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for dinner.
Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.
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  #4  
Old 03-25-2009
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^^^
That's a fact.
It just pisses me off every time Dave shares these numbers with us because it simply means that people don't care enough to even send a damn letter to help keep our areas open.

OK, rant over for now. Probably to be continued later....
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