Follow by Email

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest public meeting Seattle, August 13th

Considering it was a nice summer Saturday morning, there was a healthy turnout--about 75 people, including many from area conservation organizations, and some from the NCCC board. Most folks were concerned about removal of LSR designation, winter recreation that is motorized (noise issues) vs. non-motorized. Quiet is a value we should have in backcountry planning and designation.
And of course folks were concerned about the paucity of Wilderness recommendations.
Instead of Wilderness, the forest plan has a "Backcountry" designation.

I discovered that what the USFS calls "Backcountry" (Golden Horn area for example) takes in to account areas without roads, manages them to stay roadless, and emphasize non-motorized summer recreation, but also calls for winter motorized recreation in those same areas.

Also, USFS didn't make recommendation for more wilderness across lands they acknowledge are of Wilderness quality due to concerns about mineral rights, both existing mines in the Azurite and upper Canyon Creek areas (remediation is underway), and potential areas that have suitable minerals for mining, notably in the Liberty Bell area. That is, the USFS doesn't want to generate a conflict of laws between the General Mining Law of 1872 and Wilderness--areas like that already exist (surface governed by Wilderness, subsurface has legitimate patents, and the ensuing battles to meet both laws in direct conflict). As well, motorized interests and existing roads provide access that make Wilderness designation difficult. Finally, there is wildfire concern, and having the ability to fight fires in areas that are adjacent to communities.

Frankly, these issues are not in effect in many of the areas we want to see designated as Wilderness, including Mad River, Cedar drainage, and the upper Skagit and upper Methow drainages (see Golden Horn, Tower MOuntain, Mount Hardy, L:berty Bell, Early Winter Spires).

And really, consideration of mineral rights and potential mining in the Liberty Bell area? I wonder how many residents of the Methow will change their tune and support Wilderness or National Park status for these spectacular lands if planning moves forward for mining this area. Has anyone seen how often the (modern, environmentally aware) Buckhorn Mine has been in compliance for water quality effluent since it began operation?
Answer: not once.

Stay tuned, the comment period lasts until September 28th, so make your voice heard!

Send comments to:

Forest Plan Revision
Okanogan Valley Office
1240 Second Avenue South
Okanogan, WA 98840

Okanogan Valley Office: 509-826-3275
Deborah Kelly, Plan Revision Public Information Specialist: 509-826-3275
Margaret Hartzell, Plan Revision Group Leader: 509-826-3275

TTY: 509-826-3765





Barbara said...

I hope that while folks are speaking up for the wilderenss close to home, they remember the much more at-risk areas of the Colville, where only 1% of our state's wilderness now lies. When speaking up for wilderenss, please be sure to also ask for wilderness protection in the Colville on the following area. THANKS!!

•All of the Kettle Crest (Bald/Snow, Profanity, and Hoodoo Canyon), including areas along Sherman Pass currently listed as backcountry in the proposed action
• Hoodoo Canyon
• Abercrombie Mountain
• Salmo-Priest Additions
• Thirteenmile
• Cougar Mountain
• Twin Sisters
• Hall Mountain
• Grassy Top Mountain
• Quartzite
• Bunchgrass Meadows

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to point out that the comment period actually ends Sept. 28th. I also thought we had over 100 people at the meeting, as I counted how many seats there were at the end. They were all full during the meeting with some people standing.