ALERT: Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest Plan Revision and FEIS

SAWS Action Alert

Please submit your comment before the deadline.

Comment period deadline is March 31st, 2008

Submit your comments to:

Forest Plan Comments
Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest
420 Barrett Street
Dillon, Montana 59725


The Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest (BDNF) Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Forest Plan Revision was released February 15th for comment. This revision is another example of the Montana Region One Forest Service running out of control and catering to the wishes of those with the deepest pockets.┬á In this case, wilderness advocates have sold out to the timber industry in order to add to the forestÔÇÖs recommended wilderness area (RWA) inventory.

The current BDNF preferred Alternative 6 recommends MORE wilderness in this FEIS than was proposed in the last preferred alternative, Alternative 5, during the DEIS public comment period.┬á With the release of this new Alternative 6, there are┬á80,000 additional acres added over and above the previous Alternative 5 — WEÔÇÖVE GAINED NOTHING from what is currently open to┬ásnowmobile use.┬á We are being asked to support giving up acreage gaining nothing in return. ┬áWhy should snowmobilers care?┬á Historically Region OneÔÇÖs policy is to close all RWAÔÇÖs to snowmobiling and the deals between the timber industry and wilderness advocates locks snowmobilers out of even more riding areas than ever.

Alternative 6, the preferred alternative, has dropped the Mt. Jefferson/Hellroaring Basin (Mt. Jefferson Southern Portion) closure from the plan. This is the result of a lot of hard work by many individuals and is great news for snowmobilers.┬á SAWS would like to say Thank You to all that helped keep this extremely important snowmobiling area open.┬á However, SAWS is of the opinion that the Forest Service kept the Mt Jefferson area open in the hope that snowmobilers would ignore all the other proposed closures.┬á The timber industry/wilderness advocate sell-out is known as the ÔÇ£Beaverhead-Deerlodge PartnershipÔÇØ and is being called a citizenÔÇÖs collaborative effort.┬á How can this be called a collaboration of citizens when the deal was made between two special interest groups?┬á Among others, snowmobilers were once again left out of the discussion.

Please refer to the BDNF website where you will find links to the BDNF FEIS and maps about Alternative 6:

Although Alternative 6 has been chosen as the preferred alternative, this does not mean that you can not recommend that elements of the other alternatives be considered.

SAWS is encouraging our members to support a modified version of Alternative 4.  We recommend you include some or all of the following talking points in your comments.  Please add any personal information about yourself and how/where you recreate in the BDNF currently or in the past.

  • Alternative 4 advocates removing all recommended wilderness area designation from forest lands.┬á Region OneÔÇÖs policy of closing RWAÔÇÖs to snowmobiling makes no ecological sense given that snowmobiling does not negatively impact wilderness character in other Forest Service (FS) regions. Only congress can designate wilderness and lock snowmobilers out of existing riding area.
  • FSH 1909.12 requires the forest service ÔÇ£meet the tests of capability, availability, and needÔÇØ when determining new areas for wilderness recommendation. Clearly there is no need for additional wilderness in this forest for the 1.09% of forest visitors that currently recreate in this forest.┬á Barely 1% of current BDNF visitors use the existing wilderness areas in this forest (per NVUM results). There is no need to recommend more wilderness areas with such a small use of existing wilderness areas in this forest.
  • Alternative 4 provides a small overall reduction in area currently closed to snowmobiling.┬á Tell the FS that you support this attitude, and thank them for recognizing real world trends.
  • Alternative 6 removes the Mt. Jefferson/Hellroaring Basin (Mt. Jefferson Southern Portion) closure from the draft plan.┬á Again, tell the FS thank you for working with snowmobilers in keeping this vital area open to snowmobiling.┬á You might mention that along with snowmobilers, the citizens of Island Park appreciate the fact that the FS recognized the economic importance of continued use of Mt. Jefferson and Hellroaring Basin.
  • Alternative 4 closes 25 miles of snowmobile trail.┬á This is not acceptable because snowmobile trails do not negatively impact wildlife or the environment, including high use areas according to a Yellowstone National Park study.
  • The so-called ÔÇ£Beaverhead-Deerlodge PartnershipÔÇØ (BDP) is certainly NOT a citizenÔÇÖs collaborative effort as it is being labeled by the FS planning staff.┬á It is the result of two deep-pocketed special interests that excluded all but the timber industry and wilderness advocates.┬á Snowmobilers and many other user groups were not invited to participate in the so-called collaboration.
  • The ÔÇ£Beaverhead-Deerlodge PartnershipÔÇØ plan should not have been included in the development of the FEIS because the plan was delivered almost six months (April, 2006) after the DEIS comment deadline (October 31, 2005).┬á Citizen participation in this process is discouraged after the comment deadline.┬á Citizens were not implicitly or theoretically afforded the same leniencies with respect to the deadline as were given to the BDP.

Thank you all for your interest in and dedication to protecting YOUR right to ride.

Janine, Scott & Dave (MT, ID & WA SAWS Reps respectively)
Snowmobile Alliance of Western States

Protecting the right to ride for the owners of 281,965 registered snowmobiles (2007) in the western United States.

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