The public still has time to comment on changing roadless area boundaries in several national forests in Eastern Washington.
Responding to high levels of interest, Forest Service officials extended the comment deadline from August 15 to Sept. 29 for the public to review and submit suggestions on more than 50 roadless areas in the Colville, Okanogan, and Wenatchee forests.
As the forests work to revise management plans created some 15 years ago, they are required to determine whether portions of inventoried roadless areas should be recommended to Congress for consideration as wilderness.
“At this time, we’re only proposing boundaries of roadless areas, not whether an area should be recommended to Congress as a wilderness, or whether a roadless area should be managed for other purposes such as motorized or non-motorized recreation,” said Margaret Hartzell, Forest Plan Revision Team Leader. “We’ll evaluate those possibilities later this fall with the help of the public.”
Conservation groups said the process is worth watching closely, as the acreage of inventoried roadless areas seems to change like the wind.
“The new inventory cuts 150,000 acres from the list, and even worse, it fails to add hundreds of thousands of acres that were not inventoried in the 1970s,” said Tim Coleman of Conservation Northwest, formerly the Northwest Ecosystem Alliance.
A portion of the Kettle Crest’s Profanity Roadless Area is no longer considered roadless, even though the Forest Service reports on the Mount Leona Fire considered it roadless, he said.
“The Wenatchee National Forest has disqualified a roadless area adjacent to Alpine Lakes Wilderness because it was helicopter logged, even though at the time they claimed helicopter logging wouldn’t change its roadless character,” he said.
Info: www.fs.fed.us/r6/colville/cow/, or (509) 664-9210.
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