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St. Joe Travel Plan for motorized use out for public review

PUBLIC LANDS — A proposed Travel Management Environmental Assessment that designates motorized travel routes for the St. Joe Ranger District has been updated and is available for public review and comment.

The Draft EA has been developed based on requirements of the 2005 Travel Management Rule. The rule requires each national forest to designate roads, trails, and areas that will be open to motorized travel, identify the type of wheeled motorized vehicles that are allowed to use these routes, and publish this information on a Motor Vehicle Use Map.

After the map is published cross-country wheeled motorized vehicle use will be prohibited.

Public participation in developing alternatives included meetings, comment periods and participation by the St. Joe Focus Group," said St. Joe District Ranger Matt Davis.

Legislation and national policy have changed since the original St. Joe Travel Management EA was released in 2009. These changes required the St. Joe Ranger District to update the Travel Plan EA to reflect the updated directives. Although the changes do not require additional public review, Davis felt it important to ensure the public has the chance to review and comment on the updated Draft EA before he issues a draft decision notice.

Public comments will be used to help refine the analysis and to develop a draft decision. The 30-day comment period ends Sept. 8, 2015.

Information on the plan is available from the district St. Maries office, (208) 245-2531, or on the project website.

Lightning storms start fires in Washington forests

PUBLIC LANDS —Monday's afternoon thunderstorms led to many lightning strikes across the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest and surrounding lands starting several new fires, the Forest Service reports.  Response crews were dispatched immediately.

See the report on small fires also reported on the Colville National Forest.

In northcentral Washington, the Stokes Road Fire is being managed by the Washington Department of Natural Resources near Carlton and the Gold Creek area and is around 600 acres. Four Rappellers were dispatched up Foggy Dew Creek for a 0.75 acre fire around 4:00 p.m. yesterday. Other small fires reported:

  • South Ridge Methow, Piper Creek, tenth of an acre reported
  • West Buck Mountain, Methow RD, tenth of an acre, contained at 10:00 pm
  • Miner’s Ridge, Entiat RD, tenth of an acre, contained at 10:30 pm
  • French Cabin Junction, Cle Elum RD, quarter acre

Along with these reported fires were numerous smoke reports which fire suppression resources attempted to find in the field. These often can lay undetected in deep litter and duff layers on the ground or within trees undetected for days after a lightning event only to pop up later and spread as wildfires.  People should be aware of these conditions and report wildfires as noted below.

  • For general forest fire information on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, call 664-9314
  • To report a wildfire, call 911 or 1-800-258-5990. 


Blue Mountains national forests kick off forest plan revision

FORESTS – The Blue Mountains National Forests have begun revising the plans and general policies for managing everything from logging, grazing and fire fighting to recreation and wilderness for the next 15 years.

The group of forests include the Malheur, Umatilla and Wallowa-Whitman of northeastern Oregon and southeastern Washington.

Kick-off public meetings begin at 5:30 p.m., with a presentation at 6 p.m. followed by question and answers and an open house:

  • Thursday, April 3, Dayton, Fairgrounds Youth Building, 1 N. Pine.
  • April 9, Clarkston Campus of Walla Walla Community College, 1470 Bridge St.

Follow the planning process and make comments by June 11 at tinyurl.com/fsplan.

Idaho’s Fish Lake Trail temporarily closed to motor vehicles

TRAILS — A popular Bitterroot Mountains destination for ATVers up from the North Fork of the Clearwater River has been closed to motorized traffic temporarily because of lingering snow and wet conditions, the Clearwater National Forest says.

Fish Lake Trail 419, located 15 miles south of Hoodoo Pass near the Idaho-Montana state line, is closed to motor vehicles to prevent damage to the trail and fragile high alpine meadows on the lake’s western edge, where ATVers like to congregate.

The trail is still snow-covered in many places, said Adam McClory, the Clearwater's North Zone recreation staff officer.  The dispersed campsites located near the lake are also under snow.

McClory said that Forest officials hope to reopen the trail in mid-August.

  • For updates on road and trail conditions, contact the Clearwater National Forest Information Desk, (208) 476-8267.

Forest fire lookout museum in Spokane available for tours

NATIONAL FORESTS — Ray Kresek, author of “Fire Lookouts of the Northwest,” maintains a Fire Lookout Museum in north Spokane available to the public by appointment.

Contact:(509) 466-9171; email rkresek@comcast.net

Kresek recently was honored by the U.S. Forest Service with a national Smokey Bear Award.

Kresek began leading the effort to preserve the Salmo-Priest Wilderness in 1968. Wilderness status was achieved in 1984.