PUBLIC LANDS – Colville National Forest Supervisor Laura Jo West has withdrawn the South End Motor Vehicle Project enacted in November after years of planning to guide off-highway vehicle use.
This decision was appealed in January by Conservation Northwest, the Lands Council, and the Kettle Range Conservation Group.
West withdrew the project after the appeal was reviewed by the Regional Forester in Missoula. No timeline has been set for rewriting the project that would allow off-road vehicle riders to establish more legal riding routes on the south end of the 1.1 million acre forest.
The appeal said the project rewarded groups who illegally pioneered new trails in national forest areas where off-road travel had been prohibited.
The conservation groups argued that the plan lacks money to rehabilitate existing damage by illegal off-road riding. The appeal said the Forest Service had not analyzed impacts of federal designations in combination with county designations allowing OHVs to travel on more than 1,300 miles of new routes added since 2005.
“The South End project is an excellent project,” West said in a written statement. “Not only does it provide a wonderful network of family-friendly OHV routes that connect communities, it provides for the rehabilitation of heavily impacted campsites, stream corridors and illegal motorized trails.
“I withdrew the decision so we can supplement our analysis of the project to make sure the decision to proceed is based on solid rationale that fully considers the impact to other resources.”
Idaho nixes sale of landowner tags
HUNTING – The Idaho Senate, in a rare 17-17 tie vote, killed a bill that sought to allow landowners to sell special hunting tags they receive because their properties provide important habitat for deer, elk or pronghorn.
The measure that died Wednesday was sponsored by Sen. Jeff Siddoway, R-Terreton, a rancher.
The Idaho Fish and Game Commission allows eligible landowners to participate in drawings for “Landowner Appreciation Tags.”
Siddoway wanted to allow landowners to cash in on these controlled hunting tags by letting them sell them to other hunters, at any price they negotiate.
The bill raised concerns that Siddoway sought to extend to landowners like himself a lucrative new option that violates the spirit of Idaho’s hunting legacy — preserving opportunities for everyone, not just the privileged.
Wolverine research update set in CdA
WILDLIFE – An update on a wolverine research underway in the Selkirk and Cabinet mountains of Idaho and Montana will be presented at the Kootenai Environmental Alliance lunch meeting Thursday, noon, at the Iron Horse Bar & Grill, 407 Sherman Ave., in Coeur d’Alene.
Kelsey Brasseur of Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness will present the program. Brasseur is coordinating more than 40 volunteers who are helping researchers monitor wolverine bait stations across the study area.
Hunt proposals topic
HUNTING – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will meet March 9 in Moses Lake to hear final public comment on proposals for 2012-2014 hunting rules.