As we approach March there is much to be concerned with. In this issue, you will hear our response for county support to take over public lands, learn about the new misguided Forest Planning guidelines, discover why we have filed an appeal of the Clearwater National Forest Travel Plan, find out about the recent committee hearing on the Upper Lochsa Land Exchange, receive confirmation of aerial gunning wolves in the Lolo Zone, and hopefully rejoice over the announcement that mega-cranes are being dismantled at the Port of Lewiston.
Five counties in Idaho have put their support behind a proposal to cede control of 200,000 acres of public lands from the federal government. Despite indications that there is bi-partisan support in Congress to renew the Rural Schools Bill, the counties believe Idaho “does a pretty good job on their timber management.” Read the Op-Ed we composed in response to this horrible proposal:
Chief of the Forest Service Tom Tidwell appeared in Boise last week, along with Senator Mike Crapo, to address the agency’s new planning rules that will guide individual National Forests when updating their Forest Plans. While Chief Tidwell supports weakening environmental standards, Harry Jageman, a retired Forest Service biologist, sees it differently:
We have officially filed an appeal of the Clearwater National Forests’s Travel Plan Record of Decision (ROD). It is good to see the agency finally addressing the decades of off-road vehicle abuse, particularly the enforcement of reckless cross-country travel, but the plan comes up short in that it does not follow the 1987 Forest Plan protocols to close off motorcycle loops in places like Weitas Creek and Cayuse Creek, which contain critical wildlife habitat. Nor does the plan offer enough quality primitive recreation experiences outside of the agency’s recommended wilderness areas.
Despite having no say in the matter, the Idaho Senate Resources & Environment Committee hosted dozens of members of the public opposed to the Upper Lochsa Land Exchange. The overall message seemed to be that this exchange “is just a redistribution of wealth” and that “public lands should stay in the hands of the public.” We applaud all those that made the trip to Boise. The Forest Service hopes to issue a final decision in November or December of this year.
Despite our best efforts to stop it, the Idaho Fish & Game Department announced that they contracted with the USDA Wildlife Services and used helicopters to kill fourteen wolves in the Lolo Zone. Citing a desire “to see one of Idaho’s premier elk populations recover as much as possible” the fact of the matter is this particular herd was decreasing in size years before native wolf populations increased.
The Idaho Fish & Game Department has decided not to prosecute the individual responsible for killing a wolf in the Emmett, Idaho area despite the fact that his tag was expired. The department claims a store owner told the man that he did not need a 2012 tag to kill a wolf. Please call department Director Virgil Moore at (208) 334-3771 if you feel this is a double standard and contradictory of the state’s strict poaching laws.
If you have not heard about Idaho Senate Bill 1305, which would allow ranchers to use “live-bait” to lure in wolves and kill them, read our action alert. It’s just one more reason why Idaho is completely incapable of managing our nation’s wildlife.
Finally, it’s been reported that two large cranes at the Port of Lewiston could be dismantled by the end of March, perhaps signaling that Exxon/Imperial Oil’s is going to pursue alternative routes as the long-term gateway to the Alberta Tar Sands. Use the below link to read more about this, and Montana District Judge Ray Dayton’s ruling to keep an injunction in place that forbids the oil giant from traversing Montana’s rural and scenic highways.