Forest Plan Revisions – Is the Goal to Convert Roadless to Wilderness?

The article below, “Join the Effort to Revise the Forest Plan” was recently printed in the 2004 issue of the Cascade Lookout, which is a publication of the Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forests here in Washington State. Notice the portion of the article that states that one of the decisions that will be made during the Forest Plan Revisions (FPR) is to “Evaluate and determine whether roadless areas should be recommended as part of the National Wilderness Preservation systemÔǪ” I made reference to my concern with the forest service direction during these plan revisions in my article titled “The Common Thread – Forest Plan Revisions and so-called Wilderness Areas” that I wrote in December of 2003.┬á

During the FPR public meetings in late 2003, the forest service stated that they were required to look for additional areas to add to the National Wilderness Preservation System as is required by the Washington State Wilderness Act of 1984. This act states in section 5.(b) (2) “…and the Department of Agriculture shall not be required to review the wilderness option prior to the revisions of the plans, but shall review the wilderness option when the plans are revised, which revisions will ordinarily occur on a ten-year cycle….”. I have included a link to this act in case you are interested in reading more of the details.

So what do Washington State snowmobilers, and other OHV recreationists have the possibility of losing? Well, the Colville, Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forests combined contain approximately 5 million acres, and approximately 1.17 million (23%) of these acres are classified as roadless. Of course not all of these roadless acres are truly lacking roads, and most of these roadless areas are currently open for snowmobiling. These three forests also have a combined total of 1.66 million acres (33%) that are currently designated as wilderness. How much of the 1.17 million acres will be recommended for wilderness during these FPR? I say it should be none, but we won’t be that lucky. I think 33% wilderness is plenty. The forest where the majority of snowmobilers recreate in Washington, Wenatchee National Forest, is already 45% wilderness. You can refer to the three links below to see what areas in each forest are currently designated as roadless and wilderness.

Once again, I am asking each and every one of you to submit a comment letter/email to the FPR team at the address listed at the bottom of this email. It is very important to let the forest service know early in their revisions, that you are opposed to any new wilderness areas being added to these forests. If you need help with your comment letters, I can forward you a copy of the comment letter that I submitted, just reply to this email and let me know that you would like a copy. Also, if you are not from Washington State, donÔÇÖt think you are out of the woods. You should check the schedule for the FPR in the forests in your state. Every state will have their FPR done sometime in the not to distant future.

For you folks in southern California, you have some major issues with your FPR too. I was reading some of the information contained in the southern California FPR documents the other night, and the forest service Alternative 6, if approved, would add an additional 581,848 acres as recommended wilderness. This would close an additional 17% of the 3.5 million acres in these forests to OHV use. The four forests that are affected by that FPR are Angeles, Cleveland, Los Padres and San Bernardino National Forests. I didn’t read enough of the plans to see if snowmobiles areas are involved here, but I would assume so, along with other OHV uses.┬á

I hope I didnÔÇÖt bore you with too much information here, but I wanted to ensure that I got the point across. The results of these FPR changes could be very negative to our sport.

Take care,

Dave Hurwitz
Snowmobile Alliance of Western States

Disclaimer: This email is being sent by a concerned Washington State snowmobiler and should not be construed to represent the concerns, opinions, or position of the Washington State Snowmobile Association.


Join the Effort to Revise the Forest Plan!

Many people care deeply about how national forests are managed. Whether you visit them regularly and have intimate knowledge of them, or simply dream about visiting them, you can make a difference in how your national forest is managed for the future.

You are invited to join us as we change the “blue print” that directs management of your National Forests. Currently, a team of Forest Service employees is revising the plans for the Colville, Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forests. Your ideas and opinions will be important to updating the plans, which were last completed in 1988, 1989, and 1990 respectively. By law this blueprint, officially known as the Land and Resource Management Plan, is revised every ten to fifteen years.

Plans define how the Forest Service manages the National Forests. Each national forest and grassland in the United States has its own plan which establishes the desired future condition for the land and resources, and sets broad, general direction.

Forest operations must be consistent with Forest Plan standards and guidelines, as well as its goals, objectives, and management requirements, and all relevant overarching laws and regulations. Although management plans identify where and under what conditions an activity or project can proceed, they do not normally make site-specific decisions to undertake particular projects.

Forest Plans make these 6 decisions:

  • ┬áEstablish forest-wide multiple-use goals and objectives.┬á
  • Establish the forest-wide management requirements for implementing projects under the plan.┬á
  • Determine the boundaries of management areas and prescribe the activities that may be applied in them.┬á
  • Identify land suitable for producing timber and establishes how much timber the Forest Service is allowed to sell from lands suited for timber production.┬á
  • Establish what the Forest Service must do to monitor and evaluate management activities and effectiveness.┬á
  • Evaluate and determine whether roadless areas should be recommended as part of the National Wilderness Preservation system, and address which rivers and streams be recommended for inclusion in the Wild and Scenic Rivers system.

Much has changed in our world and in the management of the national forests since the late 1980s and early ÔÇÿ90s. Ecological conditions have changed, public expectations are different, and new laws and regulations have been implemented since the plans were originally created. These changes need to be reflected in the new forest plans.

Rather than making sweeping change, Forest Service planners expect to build on the existing forest plans and make changes only as necessary.

The Forest Plan Revision effort is expected to be completed by March, 2006 so thereÔÇÖs plenty of time for you to join us and not get left behind! Some public meetings have already been held, and more will be planned as new information is available. Besides public meetings, you can also participate anytime by writing us via U.S. Mail, e-mailing us your comments, or by giving us a call on the phone. For more information on Forest Plan Revision, you may also access our web site.┬á


Web site:

Mailing Address: Forest Plan Revision Team

Colville, Okanogan, and Wenatchee National Forests,

Okanogan Valley Office

1240 Second Avenue South

Okanogan, WA 98840