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Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests Plan Revision (Nov 2023)

👇 LINKS TO TAKE ACTION 👇

  1. OBJECT TO THE FOREST PLAN (Forest Service website)
  2. CONTACT THE WHITE HOUSE
  3. ATTEND OUR INFORMATIONAL EVENT (Jan 11th in Moscow, Jan 18th online)

Join our Zoom meeting to learn about the NPCNF forest plan: 
Time: Jan 18, 2024 07:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)
Zoom Link: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/85981276736
Meeting ID: 859 8127 6736

Weitas creek, by Brett Haverstick. The Bighorn-Weitas Roadless Area is not recommended for wilderness designation in the draft plan. It is one of the largest unprotected wild places in America.

Oppose the USFS Forest Plan by January 29th

The final draft forest plan for the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests is here. It’s bad.

The draft plan, unveiled by the US Forest Service (USFS) on November 29th, 2023, would be a blatant giveaway to the timber industry, a grave blow to federal accountability, and an affront to Wild Clearwater Country.

Forest plans act as blueprints for long-term forest management. They set policy that individual projects must conform to, as well as “big picture” goals that the USFS tries to achieve.

The draft revised forest plan is a massive step backward from the 1987 plans. The Nez Perce and Clearwater National Forests were administratively combined about a decade ago so the separate forest plans in 1987 were combined in the new revision process.

In almost every way, the new plan is worse than in 1987. There is no accountability and little chance of enforcing any provisions in these plans. Below is a summary of the overall plan and its problems. At the top and bottom of this page are links to raise your voice.

What’s in the Plan?

Wilderness:

The wilderness recommendation is 263,000 acres, a measly 17% of the roughly 1.5 million acres of roadless country in both forests. (not all of the qualifying areas were even studied). The most important roadless area for wildlife, the 250,000 acre plus Weitas Creek (including Cayuse Creek), is not proposed for wilderness.

Other important areas that are entirely excluded are:

  • Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness additions around Elk Summit (previously recommended by the Forest Service),
  • South Lochsa Face
  • Gedney Creek
  • Rapid River (an addition to Hells Canyon Wilderness)
  • Pot Mountain, a critical area for mountain goats, among other species
  • Fish and Hungery Creeks, some of the best steelhead habitat in the region
  • Cove-Mallard (which would be additions to the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness)
  • Upper North Fork
  • Gospel-Hump Wilderness additions
  • Moose Mountain (currently protected as a non-motorized backcountry area)

Kelly Creek/Great Burn is eviscerated, the state-line trail is excluded, effectively cutting this bi-state gem in half.

Meadow Creek (an addition to the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness) is the only new place to be recommended, however the boundary halves the roadless area and fails to protect most of the Meadow Creek watershed.

Only the Mallard-Larkins has anything resembling a good boundary, but it omits the important Elizabeth Lakes country. You can read more about the diverse unprotected wildlands of the Clearwater here.

Because of a lawsuit settlement agreement in 1993 against the 1987 Clearwater National Forest Plan, roughly 537,000 acres of wildlands (double what the agency currently recommends) are to be managed as Recommended Wilderness until the 1987 plan is revised. The Forest Service purposely ignores this fact in order to mislead the public about how much land is currently administered as Recommended Wilderness. 

Old-growth:

There are few measurable and enforceable standards proposed in the new plan. This is unlike the two 1987 plans which had quantifiable, measurable, and relatively enforceable standards.

For example, standards in the 1987 Nez Perce Forest Plan to protect old growth were the basis for our recent successful lawsuit victory on the Hungry Ridge Timber Sale, litigated by Advocates for the West. More specifically, the two 1987 plans have numerical standards to protect old growth, 10% forest-wide and 5% for each smaller watershed. These areas are currently off-limits to logging.

This older fir-spruce forest, a common habitat in mid-elevation central Idaho, would have no protections under the new plan. This photo, taken by Katie Bilodeau, was slated to be logged in the Hungry Ridge project, but an FOC-led lawsuit halted the project on the grounds it targeted old-growth forest.

The new draft plan eliminates those standards, proposes no protection for old growth in the most abundant forest types, and allows logging down to a bare minimum in old growth for the remaining forest types.

Watersheds and Aquatic:

One of the major problems of the new proposed plan is the weakening of protection for aquatic habitat. First, stream buffers are reduced by 50% on a few watersheds and 67% on the rest. There are even exceptions in the inner buffers next to the streams. Current standards that measure sediment are eliminated in favor of vague guidelines. This will harm salmon, steelhead, Pacific lamprey, bull trout, and cutthroat trout.

Wildlife:

Unlike the current plans, there are no road density standards and motorized trail standards to protect elk habitat. These standards also protect grizzly, wolverine, lynx, fisher, and mountain goat habitat. There are no hard and fast protection standard for grizzlies, which are just beginning to recover in the area. The scant wilderness recommendation does not protect enough grizzly, mountain goat, wolverine, lynx, fisher, or marten habitat.

This draft forest plan recommends halving the Great Burn/Kelly Creek area, pictured here. It is ground zero for grizzly recovery in central Idaho. It would also drop the elk habitat standards that allowed FOC to protect this region from excessive motorized impacts.

Logging:

The new plan would increase logging nearly 6 times over the average in the 2000. This massive increase is portrayed as restoration rather than the damaging kind of activity it really is. Logging is conflated with restoration in the new plan. The Forests Service fails to recognize science that shows the activities on the national forests that produce the most greenhouse gases are logging operations. See the next page for the recent trend in timber sales on the Nez Perce and Clearwater National Forests and what the plan would propose.

The timber production goals in the draft forest plan are a radical departure from the last several decades and would be a major blow to wildlife and carbon sequestered in the forests.

Take Action

Object

For all those that have commented previously during this plan revision, you can object to this plan. Objections are due January 29th, 2024. Click here to make your objection, or follow the button below. Know that, according to the Forest Service website, they will accept any feedback at any time on this forest plan. IE, don’t be shy – tell them to scrap this disaster of a plan.

Object to the Forest PlanClick Here

 

Contact the White House

Tell President Biden that this plan is a failure and should be stopped. This plan, designed during the Trump administration, is in opposition to three of Biden’s policy aims:

  1. 30×30, the effort to protect 30% of the country’s lands and waters by 2030
  2. Old-growth forest protection
  3. Climate Change

Use the information here to compose a short letter. Here is the link to access the portal:https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/

Write an Op-ed

Letters to the editor are important. Most papers take letters around 200 to at most 250 words.

Here are some addresses for letters to the editor:

  • Moscow-Pullman Daily News letters@dnews.com
  • Lewiston Morning Tribune letters@lmtribune.com, or Letters to the Editor, PO Box 957, Lewiston ID 83501
  • Spokesman Review (Spokane) editor@spokesman.com or The Spokesman-Review, 999 W. Riverside Ave., Spokane, WA 99201
  • Idaho Statesman https://www.idahostatesman.com/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/submit-letter/
  • The Missoulian: oped@missoulian.com

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