Big Wild Bi-Weekly November 2, 2010

Dear Wildland Lovers,

There are plenty of people in the woods and out on the rivers this time of the year and we hope you are one of them. The needles of western larch, aspen and cottonwood are peaking with golden yellows, providing a great opportunity to break in that new camera. Temperatures have dropped too, allowing for long, crisp walks through the cooler forest floor and chilly nights sipping cocoa, rapped in a cozy sleeping bag. Whether you like to hunt and fish, or just plain walk the trails and paddle the waters, we hope you are embracing the renewal of nature.

In this issue we will invite you to our Annual Meeting, celebrate the expansion of critical habitat for bull trout, alert you to the importance of the Nez Perce National Forest Travel Plan, explain who is in charge of wolf management in Idaho, assess the diesel spill clean up on the Lochsa River, and interpret the ID Supreme Court’s decision involving the mega-loads.

Please join us this Saturday November 6th for our annual meeting and gathering at the 1912 Center in Moscow. The event begins at 5:30pm and is open to the public. The potluck will feature lots of homemade foods, delicious wines and festive music. There will also be an award ceremony, Board elections and a silent auction. Let’s have some fun and look back on all that we have accomplished this past year! Call (208) 882-9755 for questions.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service recently issued a final rule that designates close to 20,000 miles of streams and 500,000 acres of lakes and reservoirs as critical habitat for threatened bull trout populations in the West. Of the four states possessing critical stream habitat, Idaho leads the way with close to 9,000 miles. The battle for bull trout recovery started in 1992 with a petition by the Alliance for Wild Rockies and Friends of the Wild Swan. Three presidents and eighteen years later the group has finally forced the feds to manage threatened populations according to science and law. Washington, Oregon, Montana and Nevada are the other states with crucial habitat essential for the recovery of the native char. Go here to learn more: http://www.wildrockiesalliance.org/

Last week the Nez Perce National Forest released a Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement regarding the use of motorized vehicles on forest roads and trails. In the works since 2007, this extremely important plan could go a long way in limiting off-road vehicles to certain areas, minimizing soil erosion and resource damage and take an important step towards protecting wildlife habitat. Less motorized recreation also means cleaner air and more opportunities for quiet recreation. Comments are being accepted until December 3rd. Click to see the plan:

http://a123.g.akamai.net/7/123/11558/abc123/forestservic.download.akamai…

The state of Idaho has officially relinquished wolf management to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. With the return of the species to the Endangered Species List and a decision by the Department of Interior to forbid a public hunt request, Idaho has decided it no longer wants to participate in management of the species. The federal government will now handle all incidents involving illegal poaching, livestock owner claims, monitoring the species population, conducting research and allocating management dollars. Unlike Idaho, Montana has decided to continue to cooperate and take part in wolf management decisions within their state lines. Check out the below link:

http://www.westernwolves.org/index.php/managing-wolves

A group of state and federal agencies charged with cleaning up the 7,500 gallon diesel spill on Highway 12 has decided to scale back clean up efforts because of porous sub-surface conditions and the approach of winter weather. Reports indicate that all the fuel not initially recovered has now leached into the water table, making it harder to remove. Agency officials will soon begin removing booms from the river and instead lightly monitor the sight throughout the winter. We advocate closing the highway to all future shipments of hazardous materials, which would eliminate the risk of future spills and further protect the delicate river ecosystem.

In a 3-2 vote, the Idaho Supreme Court decided that at this time the courts do not have jurisdiction over the Conoco Phillips/Highway 12 lawsuit. By ruling that it is a “contested” case, the Idaho Transportation Department must hold public hearings and allow further expert testimony to be submitted before they can take “final action” and consider re-issuing permits for the CP mega-loads. It is very important to point out that the Court did not rule on the merits of the case, but instead ruled on an administrative technicality, therefore leaving the window open for future litigation. Another words the battle has just begun.

Walk In the Wild,

Brett

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