Comment On Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests Recreation Program!
The Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests are going through a process called Recreation Facility Analysis (RFA). While it makes sense to look at recreation on these two forests, especially with declining budgets, there are serious problems with the RFA process.
It’s genesis comes from private commercial interests (the American Recreation Coalition) who want to marketize the national forests. These interests see an opportunity to take over facilities on public land. Indeed, the Forest Service is considering having private concessionaires run campgrounds along the Middle Fork, Lochsa, and Selway wild and scenic river corridors. The public interest would not be served by such actions.
Second, the Forest Service does not intend for the RFA process to go through the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) even though it allocates backcountry areas to developed recreation sites. The proper venue for these decisions is through the forest planning process.
Third, it is a backdoor way to “develop” backcountry areas by declaring places such as remote lookouts as “developed’ recreation sites. It also declares primitive campgrounds, accessed by rough dirt roads, as developed sites.
The deadline for public comments is Friday, November 30.
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Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests
Or via US Mail to
Clearwater National Forest
12730 U.S. Highway 12
Orofino, ID 83544
Points To Consider
1- The RFA plan should be scrapped and a real recreation planning effort that goes through formal public involvement via the National Environmental Policy Act initiated. This should preferably be done with forest plan revision.
2- The recreation values of the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests are best exemplified by their vast backcountry wildlands. Indeed, it is the heart of Idaho’s Big Wild. Places like Weitas Creek, Pot Mountain, the upper North Fork Clearwater, and Meadow Creek should be kept wild. Remote Forest Service sites like lookouts should not be considered developed recreational facilities. Rather, the forest planning process should determine what to do with those sites if they are no longer needed by the agency.
3- No private concessionaires should be allowed to manage public campgrounds or backcountry facilities like lookouts on the national forests.