ALERT: Management Policy for Region 1 Recommended Wilderness Areas

SAWS Action Alert 


SAWS members,

It is unusual that the Snowmobile Alliance of Western States (SAWS) sends out an alert asking our members to mail back a letter, a form letter at that, to oppose any issue. This is one of those rare times.  As a SAWS member, you CAN make a difference.  It is critical that all pro-motorized access users, including snowmobilers, participate in this process.   SAWS, the BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC) and the Treasure State Alliance (TSA) urge you to do your part.

What is at Stake?

25 million acres of public national forest and grasslands in Region 1 (Montana, North Dakota, northeast Washington, northern Idaho, and northwest South Dakota) are threatened with imminent closure. This includes vast expanses of snowmobile open country riding areas.┬á Your involvement and action is critical in making the difference between a ÔÇ£closedÔÇØ sign and an ÔÇ£openÔÇØ sign. Please take a moment to read the information in this letter and act on the action items as requested.

Critical Situation:

SAWS, BRC and TSA have been tracking Forest Plan revisions for many years. SAWS has previously sent out numerous action alerts regarding these forest plan revisions. Despite our efforts working within the planning process, the U.S. Forest Service in Region 1 (Northern Region) is planning a de-facto Wilderness management regime for all ÔÇ£Recommended Wilderness AreasÔÇØ (RWA) under their jurisdiction.

Under normal circumstances, the ÔÇ£RecommendedÔÇØ wilderness classification is just that: a recommendation. The decision of ÔÇ£whether or not to create wildernessÔÇØ is supposed to be left up to Congress and the American people, not the forest or pro-wilderness collaborative coalitions.

Sadly, the U.S. Forest Service Region 1 Forester seems to think the Forest Service, not Congress, have the authority to manage these lands — as wilderness! New Forest Plans state that RWAs will now become closed to all motorized use, including winter snowmobile use. Closures will occur immediately upon the completion of these new Forest Plan Revisions!

 Why you should care and take action NOW.

Some of these Forest Plan Revision projects are nearing completion, and others are already complete, so please respond today. The US Forest Service Region 1 manages the 25 million acres of public national forest and grasslands listed above. New Forest Plans, under the guidance of the Northern Region Forester, dictate that large areas will be classified as RWAs. Thousands of acres of prime recreational land will be included as RWAs in these new Plans. If you have doubts that this will not affect you in some way because you donÔÇÖt ride on US Forest Service Region 1 managed lands, you are mistaken. If the Forest Service and influential pro-wilderness coalitions get away with this negative motorized recreation action in Region 1, it will surely follow to other Forest Service regions. There has already been talk of implementing this same policy in areas of Region 6 (Washington/Oregon).

HereÔÇÖs how you can make a difference:

It is important for you to take a few minutes to read this information and take action TODAY! Read the letter at the end of this alert detailing the problem and asking the Forest Service to abide by the law. Print, sign and mail the letter to the Montana SAWS address.


a. Only Congress has the authority to create designated wilderness, but these RWAs are being treated as de-facto wilderness under the Region 1 ForesterÔÇÖs direction as soon as they are created. This unlawful policy must be stopped immediately.

b. No law or Forest Service policy requires the Forest Service to take such drastic action but closures will be immediately imposed upon the completion of the new Forest Plans.  No attempt will be made to postpone these closures until Congress passes legislation to legally designate these forest lands as wilderness! We hope Congress would not act to create wilderness but history has clearly shown that once wilderness is recommended Congress acts on it and wilderness is established. ONCE WILDERNESS, ALWAYS WILDERNESS.

c. Pro-access groups such as BRC, SAWS and TSA are committed to end this abuse of power.┬á But we canÔÇÖt do it without members of these organizations helping to get it done. As previously mentioned this is a joint encounter with SAWS working cohesively with other pro-access groups, including the BRC, TSA and groups falling under those umbrellas.

d. SAWS will combine your letter with thousands of others.

e. BRC will present the letters to the U.S. Forest Service at a rally to be held in January 2007 at the Forest Service Region 1 Office in Missoula.  The letters will also be presented to the National Forest Service Office in Washington D.C.

f. MOST importantly you, as members of SAWS, can make a difference together with members of the BRC and TSA.

Your letter and opinion will count.

Please, print, sign and send in your letter today!  Personalize your letter to have a greater impact.
Mail your letter to:

    Montana SAWS Director
PO Box 1202
Anaconda, MT   59711

Copies of your letter will be sent to:

    Mike Johanns, Secretary of Agriculture
    Mark Rey, Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment
    David P. Tenny, Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment
    Montana Senator Max Baucus
    Montana Senator Jon Tester
    Montana Representative Dennis Rehberg
You are certainly welcome to send copies of your letter to other state senators, representatives, local and state government agencies, groups and organizations that you believe will take an active role in this action.

What you need to do today:

The U.S. Forest Service, as well as MontanaÔÇÖs political leaders, must hear from those who want to protect access for recreation to MontanaÔÇÖs National Forests. Here is how you will become an integral part of making a positive difference as a United States public citizen who has the right to public access of your public land!┬á Remember the plan is to get as many letters as possible completed in December for presentation at a Rally at Region 1 Headquarters in Missoula in January 2007.┬á Time is short so please mail your letter today. Details of the rally are still being worked out with the Treasure State Alliance taking the lead on this component.

Complete Step 1 TODAY by copying and editing the following letter with your personal input or if time is short for you, simply print the form letter, sign and complete your personal information and mail it back to:

    Montana SAWS Director
PO Box 1202
Anaconda, MT   59711

Complete step 2 and 3 as soon as possible.

Facilitate step 4 & 5 to the best of your ability.

You can make a difference by following these 5 simple, easy steps! 

  1. Sign your petition letter and mail it to the Montana SAWS address provided above
  2. Print the petition letter for your friends to sign. Share this e-mail with a friend and have them print the petition letter or write a letter. A copy of the petition letter is posted on our website:
  3. Bring copies of the petition letter to your next club meeting and distribute them with instructions
  4. Publish this information in your state association and club newsletters with mailing instructions
  5. Attend a Forest Planning meeting and sign up to speak out for motorized access

Snowmobile Alliance of Western States

Protecting the right to ride for the owners of 303,604 registered snowmobiles (2005) in the western United States.