FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 1, 2012
Conservation Groups Appeal Forest Service Travel Plan Record of Decision
Earlier this week, Friends of the Clearwater and other organizations filed a joint appeal of the Clearwater National Forest Travel Plan Record of Decision. While both groups were happy to see the agency finally address off-road vehicle abuse on the public lands, the project decision came up short in closing off motorized access to roadless areas like Weitas Creek and Pot Mountain, which contain critical wildlife and fisheries habitat for native species like wolves, elk and bull trout.
“The Nixon and Carter Administrations issued executive orders that outlined how motorized recreation could threaten wildlife habitat and already existing uses of our forests. The agency has largely ignored it,” said Education & Outreach Director Brett Haverstick. “Finally the Forest Service has begun to address decades of mismanagement. This has been a long time coming, though it is far too little too late.”
The groups contend that the Forest Service didn’t go far enough in their new travel management plan. The appeal notes the 1987 Clearwater National Forest Plan mandates that the forest manage to protect watershed and wildlife values in key areas. The groups contend that this new travel plan doesn’t live up to that.
“The agency is well aware of the fact that allowing motorized use in places like Cayuse Creek and Weitas Creek goes against the 1987 Forest Plan. These places contain critical wildlife and fisheries habitat for sensitive species on the Forest,” said Gary Macfarlane. “We wouldn’t be appealing this decision if we didn’t think they were breaking the law.”
Macfarlane concluded, “The Forest Service has long claimed it can provide non-motorized, backcountry experiences in wildlands not designated or recommended by the agency as wilderness. By refusing to protect areas like Weitas Creek and Pot Mountain, this plan contradicts those earlier statements of the agency.