Forest Service is currently accepting public comments on its evaluation of roadless wildlands as potential wilderness on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests. This process is part of the larger Forest Plan Revision, which will ultimately set management direction of both forests for the next 10-30 years (National Forest Management Act requires forest plans to be revised every decade but many times this is not the case). Public comment period closes February 28.
Forest Service is charged with evaluating all inventoried roadless areas on that particular national forest, and making recommendations for new wilderness, during a plan revision (only an act of Congress can designate Wilderness). Unfortunately, the agency is wrongfully using the woefully inadequate Idaho Roadless Rule (read building roads and logging in many roadless wildlands) as an evaluation. Despite 1.5 million acres of irreplaceable roadless areas on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest that should be recommended for wilderness, the agency’s proposed action would only recommend a grossly inadequate and paltry 20-30% for wilderness. The remaining roadless wildlands could be lost forever.
Therefore, this is a very important evaluation period. When an agency recommends an area for wilderness, it usually excludes road building, logging and off-road vehicle abuse in the area. The 1.5 million acres of roadless wildlands on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests provide some of the best fish and wildlife habitat in the lower 48 for Chinook salmon, steelhead and bull trout, and large carnivores like gray wolves and the rare grizzly bear. Weitas Creek Roadless Area, which is the largest contiguous roadless wildland on both national forests, should be recommended for wilderness. This low-elevation, broad river valley contains crucial winter habitat for elk, as well as refuge for other native species like moose, fisher, wolverines, lynx and more. Other areas like Pot Mountain and Upper North Fork should not be overlooked.
Forest Service has created a “story map” for the public to use in submitting public comments by February 28. You can also use this email address to submit your comment. A third option is via mail at: Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests, Attn. Zach Petersen Forest Planner, 903 3rd Street, Kamiah, ID. 83536.
FOC is hosting a Forest Plan Revision – Recommended Wilderness Workshop on Thursday February 22 at 7:00pm in the Fiske Room of the 1912 Center, 412 E. Third in Moscow. There will be a short power point presentation and group discussion.
Thank you for taking the time to submit a comment!
Education & Outreach Director