SAWS Action Alert
Colville and Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest Plan Revision
Online Comments: http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/wenatchee/forest-plan/contact/index.shtml
Forest Plan Revision for Colville, Okanogan & Wenatchee National Forests Okanogan Valley
Second Avenue South
Okanogan, WA 98840
Deb Kelly -- Public Affairs Officer (509) 826-3275
Margaret Hartzell -- Planning Team Leader (509) 826-3275
Plan Revision Website: http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/wenatchee/forest-plan/
I am sending this alert out to our WA SAWS members for two reasons.
1) Communicate our SAWS stance on the Wenatchee Mountain Coalition plan and current campaign to have numerous new winter non-motorized designations in the Wenatchee National Forest outside current wilderness areas.
2) To notify our members of the continued opportunity to submit land use comments to the Forest Service (FS) to support snowmobile access and prevent potential closures in the Colville and Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forests during their Plan revision.
Wenatchee Mountain Coalition (WMC) non-motorized campaign
There is an effort by this group, and very likely other non-motorized groups/users, to try and sway the FS into taking away areas that we as snowmobilers currently access and ride by requesting that they be non-motorized only. The biased view of their land use proposal, seeking exclusive use for non-motorized areas for the areas near the crest of the Wenatchee Mountains, is unacceptable to SAWS.
The 'significant' area they are targeting is the Wenatchee Mountains ridge crest from Van Epps Pass to Three Brothers (mountain). This encompasses Ingalls Peak, Fortune Peak, Iron Peak,the peaks surrounding Bean Creek, Earl Peak, Navaho Peak, Three Brothers and the Wenatchee Mountains crest from Rd 9716 to the west of Diamond Head across Tronsen Head, Mt. Lillian including down to the Old Ellensburg trail to Mission Peak and on to the Mission Ridge Road including Lake Clara, Mission Peak, and surrounding areas.
They desire to back their proposal with 1,000 signatures submitted to the forest plan revision team before the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) is released.
SAWS stance is that we already have enough designated wilderness areas and Recommended Wilderness Areas. We do not support future areas designated where snowmobiles are not allowed. Adding designated "Exclusive Use" areas of non-motorized status is essentially doing the same thing as treating these areas as wilderness during the winter months. SAWS approach is to continue to share the land with other motorized and non-motorized users. If it gets to the point where we must have separate “Exclusive Use” areas, then SAWS would bring to the table “Motorized Use Only” areas. After all, this mentality should be available to both sides of the table if we really have to go there, but this land should be available for all people to share and play together.
We must make our voices heard on this issue by submitting proposals to the forest service plan stating our desire to keep recreating on those areas that are currently open for motorized recreational use.
Colville, Okanogan and Wenatchee (COW) Forest Plan Revisions
This current Forest Plan revision process started back in 2002. I personally attended one of the plan revision meetings in Cle Elum in 2003. At that time there were very few snowmobilers in attendance. Those series of meetings were used to set the ground work for the forest service plans current state. SAWS has been warning our WA SAWS members about these COW forest plans since we were first formed in August 2004.
Here is a link to a previous SAWS alert on this subject from 10/04:
Here is a link to a previous SAWS alert on this subject from 03/06:
The public was scheduled to review the DEIS for these plans and have a ninety day comment period this year, but that schedule has been slid until early next year. The year slide has opened up an extra period of time that we need to take advantage of to send in our suggested proposals and concerns for the use of the land that is within the boundaries of these forest plans. This opportunity should not be missed to inform the FS that we do not want to see any more designated wilderness areas or other non-motorized areas as suggested by WMC above.
Maps may be viewed here http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/wenatchee/forest-plan/maps/index.shtml to help identify key areas in your letters.
Below are some key points to assist you in preparing your comments:
- Be specific; such as including descriptions of specific areas that are important for snowmobile use, and why. Use personal experiences you’ve enjoyed in these areas as often as possible
- Clearly describe an issue or concern and offer any possible solutions you have
- List the uses or issues that are the most important priorities to us as snowmobilers. Make sure you mention that we do not want to lose any more areas to non-motorized use.
- Use the word "Snowmobile" several times in your comment so that they get the message that winter recreation is your concern.
I will be keeping you up to date on any events that may occur as this plan moves forward into the next phase.
Washington State SAWS Representative
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