PUBLIC LANDS – A plan to open more roads at the south end of the Colville National Forest to off-road vehicles is months behind its original schedule as forest staff tries to comply with environmental regulations.
The plan, expected to be released for public comment last fall may not be ready for release until June, said Nancy Glines, forest planner.
“As we worked through we came to the requirement for an environmental analysis on (vehicle) emissions,” she said. Limited funding forces the work to be done within existing budgets.
Postponing approval leaves dirt-bike riders and ATVers with fewer roads to ride this season and curtails efforts to build connector trails to roads approved for their use.
On the other hand, the plan also proposes reducing the areas where OHVers are allowed to camp.
‘Wardens’ reality show fined for permit violation
NATIONAL FORESTS – A reality TV show about Montana game wardens was fined $1,050 for not having a permit to film on the Bitterroot National Forest.
The videographer for Muddy Boot Productions followed Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks wardens from state to federal land but didn’t have the a permit to film commercially in national forests.
The show, called “Wardens,” follows wildlife enforcement officers’ day-to-day duties, including monitoring people searching for antlers and capturing rogue bears. It airs on the Outdoor Channel.
Montana ranchers strike at stream access law
FISHING – Ranchers unhappy with Montana’s stream access law are backing a bill in the Legislature that tinkers with rules that allow access to public waters via irrigation ditches.
Anglers are opposing the measure.
The bill opens an issue decided by the Supreme Court in 2008 declaring that a slough that runs through the Bitterroot Valley property of 1980s rocker Huey Lewis and others is a public waterway and open to recreational use under the state stream access law.
The state’s stream access law says that Montana rivers and streams are open to all if reached from public property, even if they eventually flow through private land.
The House approved the bill but anglers hope to kill it in the Senate.
Lewiston river outfitter, conservationist dead
PUBLIC LANDS – John A.K. Barker, a conservationist, hunting and rafting outfitter, former Lewiston city councilor and a retired theater professor at Lewis-Clark State College, died Monday.
For more than 40 years he worked to preserve wild rivers, canyons and iconic wildlife such as bighorn sheep.
Barker, an early river rafting outfitter on the Lower Salmon River, also operated a big-game hunting guide service. He was a board member of the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation and served on the Idaho Outfitters and Guides Licensing Board and the Coeur d’Alene Resource Advisory Council.
For decades, Barker campaigned to have the lower Salmon protected under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and was active in the most recent unsuccessful attempt in 2010. He volunteered on trail and cabin restoration projects on land managed by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game on Craig Mountain.