Help us save the St. Joe Ranger District from motorized madness!
The St. Joe Ranger District, of the combined Idaho Panhandle National Forest, is currently designating routes and areas open to motorized use across the entire forest. This “Travel Planning” effort is supposed to address the problem of unmanaged and unregulated motorized recreation, which the Forest Service claims, itself, has increased dramatically throughout the West. Unfortunately, many areas are, instead, being threatened by more motorized abuse.
Foehl Creek is a spectacular drainage in the St. Joe Ranger District, and a main tributary to the Little North Fork Clearwater. Its wilderness characteristics make it an outstanding asset for wildlife, clean watersheds, and recreation. In spite of the fact this is, perhaps, the wildest part of the entire Mallard-Larkins Roadless Area— 260,000-plus acres of wild country–much of this area, and a trail leading to the Little North Fork Clearwater–will be allocated to motors under every alternative in the environmental assessment (EA) released by the Forest Service.
Equally bad, no trail in the Grandmother Mountain Roadless Area is closed to motors, in spite of the severe environmental damage already being caused by vehicles to the area. This fantastic roadless area is the closest wildland to Moscow. Ancient mountain hemlocks, and small lakes are some of the unique features of this area.
Talking points you may want to include in your comment:
A- Motorized recreation should not be allowed in any roadless areas on the St. Joe Ranger District. The fact that no alternatives list this is an option, is a violation of the National Environmental Policy Act. In particular:
1. All of Mallard-Larkins should be dedicated to non-motorized uses. This includes Trail 120/595 (upper Foehl Creek), Trail 107 (lower Foehl Creek), Trail 105 and Trail 37 (Beaver Peak). The Little North Fork and Foehl Creek areas are the wildest portion of the Mallard-Larkins roadless area, and are home to cutthroat, bull trout, wolves, and mountain goats.
2. All of Grandmother Mountain should be closed. Trails 275, 261, 251, and 273 are already seeing extreme damage from motorcycles vehicles. Trails 52, 34, 35, and 36 are also already impacted, and should be closed.
3. All of the Mosquito Fly, Midget Peak, and Stateline Roadless Areas should be closed to motor vehicles. These areas see considerable hiking/horse use, and additional motorized use is incompatible. These places are in the upper St. Joe drainage, and are crucial watersheds and wildlife habitat.
B- The proposal calls for multiple motorized trails to cross non-motorized trails in the backcountry, or in some instances, motorized trails change suddenly to non-motorized trails in remote areas (!?!). This is completely unmanageable, and is a prescription for illegal use. Confusion over what is open and closed will reign. Instead, distinct roadless areas, and all trails within them, need to be closed to motor vehicles to make an enforceable and manageable situation.
C- The plan does not deal with managing snowmobile use. This is a major failing, as wolverines and lynx are harmed by this use.
Please email a short comment by Tuesday September 8 or via snail-mail:
St. Joe Travel Management
St. Joe Ranger District
222 S 7th Street Suite 1
St. Maries, ID 83861
Education & Outreach Director