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FLATHEAD COMMUNITY FOREST PLANNING GROUP

 

NATIONAL FOREST PLAN REVISION INPUT

 

 

SUBMITTED BY REPRESENTATIVE VERDELL JACKSON       JUNE 17, 2004

 

 

 

 

COORDINATED BY FLATHEAD AREA LEGISLATORS              

 

 

Representatives: Verdell Jackson, Rod Bitney, John Brueggeman, Dee Brown, George Everett, Stan Fisher, Rick Maedje, Bernie Olson, Bob Lawson, Doug Mood (Speaker of the House).

Senators: Greg Barkus, Aubyn Curtiss, Bob Depratu, Jerry ONeil, Bob Keenan (President of the Senate).

 

SENATOR CONRAD BURNS REPRESENTED BY BRENDA WILLIAMS

 

FLATHEAD COUNTY COMMISSIONERS REPRESENTED BY GARY HALL

 

KALISPELL CITY COUNCIL REPRESENTED BY BOB HAFFERMAN

 

DEVELOPED BY THE FLATHEAD COMMUNITY FOREST PLANNING GROUP

125 MEMBERS

 

 

TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE COORDINATED BY             

 

ROB CARLIN

JOE KRUGER

 

 

THANKS TO THE MANY FLATHEAD FOREST STAFF MEMBERS WHO GAVE UP THEIR EVENINGS TO ASSIST US WITH OUR REVISION INPUT

 

FLATHEAD COMMUNITY FOREST PLANNING GROUP

125 MEMBERS--- EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

Flathead State Legislators* and local officials sponsored a series of workshops (Flathead Community Forest Planning Group) to assist citizens in providing input to the Flathead National Forest Office so that they may have a reasonable range of viable, legal alternatives to evaluate for revision of the Land and Resource Management Plan (New Forest Plan).  The meetings held at the Flathead County Fairgrounds May 13, May 21, May 28, and June 3, 2004 was widely advertised in newspapers, radio, and TV public service and news segments.  

 

The meetings were conducted in a workshop format, with emphasis on sharing and promoting public understanding of information.  The Flathead National Forest was asked to provide information prior to the first three workshops on which they made presentations at the workshop and fielded questions from the participants. FS personnel did an excellent job providing information and answering difficult questions on the spot.  They provided the right people at the right time.  In addition, participants submitted questions and comments in writing on cards.  Written input from participants provided policy statements to be voted on by participants before being included in the plan and submitted to the Forest Service.  The voting was done to provide the Forest Service with the level of support of each statement presented by the public participants.

 

As a result of the public participation process, the following summarizes the major findings from the public comments.  The policy statement with the level of support is attached.  Since all meetings were well advertised and made public, the attendance makeup varied from one meeting to the next.  A sign in sheet was at the door, but not all people remembered to sign it.  An attendance list by meeting is included as well as a master list of all who were involved.

 

 

Fire, Fire, Fire

            Is anyone listening???  We dont see this priority in the Forest Service Action Plan.

 

The greatest concern of the general public is FIRE.  Fire danger, health, safety and loss of the forest as they know it are on the minds of the general public.  People who live and work in the Flathead Valley are afraid of losing their lives and their livelihood.  Most of the loggers have starved out years ago, but now even the tourism trade is being impacted by the devastating fires every summer.  Massive forest fires consume all in their path including our treasured wildlife and their habitats, as well as our sources of human enjoyment, economy and industry. 

 

Caused by neglect (lack of forest management) the forests are in such an unhealthy condition they are loaded up to burn; and burn they will every summer.  Fuel build up is of such high density that the fires cannot be put out once started.  Drought and severe overstocking has impacted the tree stands causing huge kills by bugs and insects because of stress.  Trees and underbrush are so thick that significant moisture cannot reach the ground.  These dead and dying treed areas are so large that they can easily surpass the hundreds of thousands of acres killed by fires.  The dead trees are a time bomb waiting for a match or a lightning strike!

 

The Forest Service needs to be proactive and build fire breaks and reduce fuels in advance.  This would allow some generation of economic value from timber to pay for the cost.  Just burning the fuel build up is not only extremely dangerous but wasteful and destructive to the environment and health of people.  Timber thinning and biomass harvest can help pay for the work that needs to be done now.  Costs cannot be the excuse for doing nothing.  If permitted, the forest can finance their own treatment. The cost of fighting the fires and the loss of property and forests dwarfs the cost of prevention.  The path and nature of a forest fire can be predicted from computer models and past experience.  ACTION IS NEEDED NOW.

 

 

Comment by participant:  Is it a wise policy to waste natural resources and kill or injure thousands of animals while destroying their habitat for several years, by allowing forests to grow old and unhealthy and become severely overstocked, and burn in a dry year?  Or isnt it more sensible to use logging as a way of creating the same end result without the waste of resources, or animals, or animal habitat?

 

Comment by participant:  People want landscape scale active forest management to restore forest health and promote catastrophic fire resistant forest cover.

 

Comment by participant: The majority of the public believes the Forest Service has failed to provide early detection of fire starts and failed to fight fires aggressively using knowledgeable local people who know the terrain and local equipment.  The grounding of the entire air tanker fleet at the beginning of a potentially severe fire season rather than working on individual plane or company certification is perceived as another let burn agenda driven policy rather than working for solutions that promote:  the greatest public benefits over the long term.

 

Planning process

 

This priority was not a part of the FS Action Plan, but was important to the participants.

 

The Flathead Community Forest Planning Group attendance ranged from 60 to 80 people per meeting.  Many of the people had been involved in small groups who experienced a consensus building processes coordinated by Forest Service personnel or consultants.  They unanimously voted that a large public forum was best where they did not feel manipulated or forced to compromise what they believed to be the best course of action.

 

Process needs to be advertised in such a manner that citizens will understand that they can have input into forest management issues even though they are not an expert.

 

Process needs to be organized so that every persons input is considered with no advantage given to the process experts.  For example, a minority party or group should not be able to veto components of a carefully conceived final plan.  Compromising to please a vocal minority is not acceptable.  Alternatively, a minority report is a good way to express the views of the minority without marginalizing the majority.

 

Combining all of the forests (Bitterroot, Flathead, and Lolo) into one plan is very unwise given the different climate, resource capabilities, issues, culture, and customs of each area.

 

Eliminate most of the studies and paper work.  Local people, local elected officials and common sense should carry the most weight in making management decisions, especially for the crisis situations we now face.

 

Opinions by the US Fish and Wildlife should carry no more weight than any other agency whether it is federal, state, county or city/local jurisdiction.  Mitigation of the concerns of USFW should be a factor, but they should not have veto power.

 

Eliminate management by litigation by changing the necessary laws.  Require public support and open peer review for all potential endangered species listings and delistings.

 

Comment by participant: Until there is change in the grizzly reintroduction plans driven by the

U S Fish and Wildlife Service, we will not see any major changes in the Forest Service Plan.  The Endangered Species Act is broken and needs to be gutted and rebuilt and there is a proposal before the US Congress right now that seeks to do just such a correction to the law.  We are held hostage by extreme environmentalists who misuse the intent of the ESA for other purposes.

 

 

Access Management

Access to the forest is the reason many people live here.  Access is a part of the community culture and heritage.  Access has appeal to visitors and tourists.  Seeing the forest up close and being able to drive to their favorite spots are pleasures that local people have taken for granted for generations.  Being locked out of a forest and seeing roads destroyed that they have used for many years is denying freedoms that were once afforded to all Americans and is very sad for local residents.  Areas where they could pick berries, obtain fire wood or cut posts are no longer accessible.   

 

Public lands should be available for public recreation.  Access should be balanced with the needs of wildlife.  This may mean temporary closing of roads, but not permanently closing or obliterating roads. The Forest Service has to recognize that the increasing and aging population demands more motorized access, both summer and winter, be provided in the Forest Plan Revision.

 

Roads are needed in order to manage the forests.  Without roads it is very expensive if not impossible to provide rehabilitation, weed control, thinning, logging, fire control etc.

 

Comment by participant:  In regard to road obliteration, do you feel in reality that it is beneficial to bring in machinery to tear up the grass, brush, and trees that are already covering the old unused and unmaintained roads and tear out old broken and dirt filled culverts?  Isnt that a huge waste of time and money, let alone creating new and severe erosion?  Many of the old logging roads that Im familiar with can hardly be found now if they havent been used.

 

Comment by participant:  In the Flathead, there are enough areas already closed to motorized use, (Glacier National Park, Great Bear, Bob Marshall, Scapegoat, Jewel Basin, etc.)

 

Recreation Management

Participants are very concerned by the gated and destroyed roads.  The large majority of people drive and do not have the time or health to walk.  Most recreation takes place on the roads or a short distance off the road.  People want to be able to see the scenery, hunt and fish and need some sort of vehicle to provide access.

 

Participants agreed that areas may need to be closed at certain times for wildlife needs and are willing to accept temporary closures but disagree with the policy of permanent closures and destruction of roads and trails.  Participants believe that the Forest Service spends too much time trying to manage people rather than managing the forest.

 

Roads can be maintained by the timber industry when timber sales are increased to a sustainable level.  This would save the Forest Service money that could be spent on managing the forest.

 

More areas and trails (including old logging roads) need to be designated and managed specifically for motorcycle and ATV use opportunities.  This would reduce the conflict with other users.

 

Comment by participant:  Spending $7000 per mile to restore a substandard road to current Best Management Practices would produce vastly increased public benefits resulting from economic timber management, recreation opportunities, fire hazard reduction, and fire suppression access than spending the $7000 /mile to obliterate the road which only produces public costs.

 

Comment by participant:  Forest Service data indicates that 80% of the recreation is driving for pleasure, so it is in the public interest to provide more road access to the public instead of road closure and obliteration.

 

Comment by participant: State and local governments should be consulted and approve public roads to be decommissioned.

Interface Management

 

The participants agreed that the private land contiguous to National Forest is indeed private land and should be treated as such without taking away property rights.  The trust is not there for Forest Service personnel to order the land owners to pursue a certain course of action to mitigate fire danger.  Their distrust is based on recent experiences with the inability of the fire crews to control fires and the fact that most fires start on the National Forest.  The participants have high regard for local officials and people who have experience with the local forest and believe that there are many options available to mitigate fire danger.  In some cases the area could be clear cut while in other cases the underbrush could be removed and the large trees thinned.  The participants are willing and ready to do their part to reduce fire danger, but want to have input into the final decision as to how best to reduce the fire danger in their respective areas on both the private and public interface.  The majority opinion was to remove underbrush and thin trees to prevent the fire from laddering and then traveling from crown to crown.  They believed that the interface area is of high value for timber production because it is easily maintained and accessible and should be part of the suitable timber base.

 

Ecosystem Management

 

With proper management, the forest can provide wood products, economic development, healthy habitat for wildlife, great scenery, clean water, and recreational opportunities while reducing fire danger.  Unfortunately the present course of action makes effective management impossible.  The draft action plan is even worse with more restrictions, more studies and less forest management, all of which is done while the forest burns.

 

The vast majority of the participants believe that State and private forests lands are well managed while the current condition of the Flathead National Forest is poor resulting in high fire hazard which threatens communities, public health, natural resources and public treasures.  The participants believe that the National Forest is not being managed at all.  They see fires every summer, behind gated and destroyed roads.  They are seeing declining economic benefit from timber harvest and their recreational benefits curtailed.  The environmentalists are advocating zero cut. What used to be an economic benefit to the nation is now a liability.  Huge amounts of money are pulled from other needs to put out fires and rehabilitate forests the public can longer enter and enjoy. 

 

Without roads it is not economically possible to provide effective fire suppression or long term sustainable forest fuel management, rehabilitation and restoration, thinning, and insect, disease and weed control.  Without money from wood products, there is a constant drain on public money needed for education, self defense, infrastructure, etc.  By default the strategy seems to be to lock the forest up and burn it.

 

Comment by Participant:  Do you (forest service employees) feel that you were forced to make many of your management decisions and policies in the past 2 decades because of environmentalists law suits and their judges decisions? Or do you feel that the Forest Service has done a good job of managing the National Forests and representing what most people really want?  If the appeals and litigation possibilities were curtailed, would your policies be different?

 

Endangered Species Recovery

 

People believe the grizzly bear populations are healthy, sustainable, recovered and not threatened.  They want grizzly de-listed under the Endangered Species Act.

 

The majority of the public believes road closures and obliteration costs to the public vastly exceed any benefits to grizzly bears or other wildlife.  They want the policies reversed to increase and restore public access in the National Forest where motorized access is possible which is only 25% of the total land area.

 

There should be public review and checks and balances on biological opinions issued by biologists who have no responsibility or accountability for the public costs that result from implementation of these opinions.

 

Comment of participant:  It doesnt take a scientist to see that people dont bother bears or mountain lions or deer or elk, or they wouldnt be coming into our yards.  Deer and elk love the edge of clear cuts, where they can graze and still be close to wooded areas.  Deer love to browse on the cut brush in areas that are being logged.  So why are roads closed to protect animals; protect them from what?

 

Forest Product Management

Forest products are a by product of good management.  Roads are necessary for effective management. None of these can be considered separately.  Without good management the high value trees are lost to fire, disease and decay.  Without good management, dense small trees and brush inhibit growth and stress resulting in disease and bug kill.  If management is conducted properly, the result will be an esthetically pleasing, healthy forest, but one that still provides for the wildlife, the watershed, and the environment that we all desire and will yield lumber and other wood products.  In essence our forests are capable of financing their own health and sustainability. State and privately owned forest lands provide an example of good forest management.  They yield both financial and recreation value to the public.  Many times these well managed forests have proven capable of stopping a full fledged wild fire. 

 

Management by burning pollutes the air and destroys habitat and nutrients.  Effective management techniques should prioritize treatments.  Logging high value trees for lumber should be geared to maximize the long term gain.  Selective cutting can be used to thin the stands and allow the remaining trees to grow faster.  New equipment makes it cost effective to select cut rather than clear cut.  Clear cutting should be done only when the stand is diseased or deteriorated to the point that it has lost all or most of the commercial value.  Most of the debris that is left can be utilized by bio-mass operations that produce wood products and energy.  This is a solution to disposing profitably, the waste and thinned trees from fuels reduction operations. 

 

Wilderness/Roadless Management

 

Participants believe that forest management and recreation requires roads to be cost effective.  Roads provide access.  Without forest management, the roadless areas will eventually burn and destroy the habitat of wildlife and the financial and aesthetic values.  Participants do not believe that the roads are inherently bad for the environment and wildlife; they believe just the opposite.

 

Comment from participant:  Roads are essential.  Close them periodically if you must, but do not destroy a road or prevent a new one and put the health of our forest at risk.

 

* Representatives: Verdell Jackson, Rod Bitney, John Brueggeman, Dee Brown, George Everett, Stan Fisher, Rick Maedje, Bernie Olson, Bob Lawson, Doug Mood (Speaker of the House).

Senators: Greg Barkus, Aubyn Curtiss, Bob Depratu, Jerry ONeil, Bob Keenan (President of the Senate).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Policy Statements Merged Categories from 4 Meetings

Flathead Community Forest Planning Group

 

Note:  The first number below is the number of votes for the policy statements and the second number is the percentage.  The percentages tended to drift down close to the end of each meeting because a few people left early and were inadvertently counted as a no vote.  The number of participants was 125, but not all of these attended each meeting.

 

The four meetings were very focused on common sense policy statements that came directly from the participants written on cards.  About of the time was spent listening to forest service personnel answer questions and the other half on tweaking and voting on the statements.

 

These policy statements are not consistent with Forest Service Plan of Draft Action because the topics in the Plan of Action did not mesh with the concerns of the participants.  Fire was by far the most important issue and process was next.  These issues were not addressed in the Draft Plan of Action, but the participants believe they must be addressed because the forest is in imminent danger of being destroyed by the present and future Forest Service Plan of Action.

 

Road access was hard to deal with as a separate issue because without road access there is no hope of accomplishing anything else.

 

Economics was added as a separate topic because it is not apparent that the Draft Plan of Action is concerned with the local economy or Montanas ability to contribute economically to the nation as a whole.  As Montanas natural resource has been systematically eliminated, average wages have dropped form 16th in the nation to dead last.  Montana is now a welfare state.

 

Healthy Forests/Timber Management/Forest Management topics should be based on solid forest management principles rather than on questionable studies.  Foresters are trained to properly care for our forest, but are unable to do their job because of misguided legislation and law suits by those who worship the so called natural processes.

 

When forests become overgrown a PERPETUAL drought will exist on the forest floor since the majority of moisture will evaporate to the atmosphere after being intercepted by the tree branches.  The larger the tree the less likelihood any of the moisture will reach the ground surface since each successive whorl of branches further intercepts the overabundance of moisture from branches above.  The resulting perpetual drought causes disease and bug kills because of tree stress.

 

The Endangered Species Act is addressed as a separate topic because it has been used to trump the needs of humans. 

 

5/13 (B) Fire Prevention:

 

1a (B 13th).                62      90%   Include all of the National Forest//private interface in the suitable timber base.

 

2a (B 13th).                62      90%   Exempt interface acres from re-forestation standards.

 

3a (B 13th).                62     90%   Build fire breaks.

          

4a (B 13th).                62     90%   Reduce fuels by thinning crowns leaving trees of various ages with variable spacing. 

5a (B 13th).                62     90%   Do not use Prescribed Fire as a tool in the wildland/urban interface.

 

6a (B 13th).                62     90%   Planning and implementation of fuel treatments and forest restoration projects should be done by US Forest Service  consulting with county government.

 

5/28 (C) Fire Hazard Reduction:

 

1c (C 28th).                53    98%    Gated roads shall be opened for fire control.

 

2c (C 28th).                53    98%    Start intensive program of fuel reduction near populated areas and then work out from there.

 

3c (C 28th).                53    98%    Start selective logging of damaged and dead trees throughout the Flathead National Forest.

 

4c (C 28th).                50    93%    Encourage land owners to remove dead trees and hazardous fuel load on their own property.  Work with owners to develop a plan.

 

5c (C 28th).                53    98%    Emphasize preventing wildfires by logging, salvage and thinning.

 

6c (C 28th).                53    98%    Train, recruit, and hire local firefighters and equipment.

 

7c (C 28th).                54     100%   Fund (from USFS retained receipts) activities (except prescribed burning) that reduce catastrophic fire fuels.

 

8c (C 28th).                51    94%    Participate with Federal Funding Credits and resource contracting for new technologies and processes that will provide fuel reduction of biomass at lower costs to taxpayer.

 

9c (C 28th).                 26    48%    Use CCC (Civilian Conservation Corp) crews for forest health work.

 

10c (C 28th).            52      96%   No let burn in Jul, Aug, or Sept (too much risk of catastrophic fire).

 

11c (C 28th).            51     94%    Forest Plans are intended to be a contract with the public on what to expect from the forest in the decade ahead.  The revised Forest Plan must have a minimum average annual harvest objective in acres of treatment and volume, as well as the maximum allowable harvest level.  There must also be minimum levels of acres and miles of trails open for the various motorized and non-motorized recreation uses specified for each alternative and final Plan.

 

12c (C 28th).            51    94%    Make Forest Plans a contract with the public on what to expect from the forest in the decade ahead.

 

13c (C 28th).            51    94%  Set a Minimum Average annual harvest objective in acres of treatment and volume, as well as the maximum allowable harvest level in the revised Forest Plan.

 

14c (C 28th).            51    94%    Set minimum levels of acres and miles of trails to be open for the various motorized and non motorized recreation uses specified for each alternative and final Plan.

 

15c (C 28th).          48     89%   Prescribed burns should be allowed only with the approval of the local County Health Board.

 

(C) Fire Suppression:

 

1a (C 13th).               65    94%    Develop faster response plans for all forest fires until restoration returns the conditions to Low-Intensity-Fire Conditions.

 

(Three most important factors:  Faster response, faster response, faster response)

 

2a (C 13th).               62    90%    Use planes to fight fires, even if they are military planes.

 

5/21 (C) Fire Suppression:

 

1b (C 21st).                69    100%    To effect faster fire response time, District Fire Managers should be given authority to contract with local fire suppression equipment operators who have suitable equipment on standby and know the area.

 

2b (C 21st).                69    100%    Use all equipment available.  (Erosion and run off will be many times worse if the fire takes thousands of acres.  This is ridiculous. Use everything available, OPEN the roads).

 

 

5/28 (A) Process:

 

1c (28th A).        53    98% Make land management decisions compatible with the heritage, customs and culture of adjacent communities and include input from local elected officials.

 

2c (28th A).        54     93% Make the Forest Service accountable to the Montana State Government which should use the power to override Forest Service policies.

 

3c (28th A).        50    93% Make a change then analyze the effects of that change, instead of making a lot of changes, then wondering what did what.

 

4c (28th A).        54    100%  Do not use the term ecosystem in place of Flathead National Forest in the Forest Plan.

 

5c (28th A).        54    100%   Cut unnecessary paperwork.  If access roads exist, dead and diseased trees should be salvaged with no paperwork.

 

6c (28th A).        54   100%    Eliminate some of the environmental impact studies.  Local officials can use common sense on deciding the impact on the environment.  It takes too much time because of government bureaucracy to make a decision.

 

7c (28th A).         54    100% End the 1973 ESA and develop a new ESA under updated data from many sources, not just Best Available Science.  Require public support and open peer review for all potential Endangered Species Listing.

 

8c (28th A).         54   100%   Lobby Congress to modify laws that prohibit reasonable management.   Use common sense management, involving elected officials in the process.

 

9c (28th A).         54   100%   Include deer, elk and moose in management indicator species.

 

10c (28th A).     54   100%   Terminate use of Equal Access to Justice Act for environmental lawsuits.

 

11c (28th A).    52    96%   Opinions by the US Fish & Wildlife should carry no more weight than any other opinion and to the best degree possible their concerns should be mitigated.

 

 

5/21 (B) Process:

 

1b (B 21st).                0    The Forest Service should offer public educational meetings to enhance the Forest Plan revision process, rather than relying on the public to hold meetings & they just come as guests.  

           

Note:    The lack of support for this policy statement does not reflect on the quality of the Forest Service personnel which we find to be excellent, but on the consensus process and the manipulation of the input and the result.  Participants believe that legislation has been misguided, topics selected do not relate to the problems, and that the process is flawed.

   

2b (B 21st).                44     64% Use silviculture and stewardship management, not a bunch of words that judges and environmental extremists will only use against the forests and the people.

 

3b (B 21st).                68     99%   Keep our forest in a healthy condition and allow all Montanans to egress and regress on all Public Montana Forests to hunt, fish, and recreate. The government agreed to do this when they took control of Montanas National Forest, so if they dont, Montana National Forests should revert back to Montana.

 

4b (B 21st).                69     100%  Do not carry Forest Plan Amendments forward into the revised plan, especially Snowmobile Amendment 24, and Amendment 19.

 

5b (B 21st).                68     99%   Keep suitable timber base in roadless areas as per the 1985 Forest Plan.

 

6b (B 21st).                67    97% Change the recreation opportunity spectrum in the areas affected to accommodate snowmobile use, rather than implementing Amendment 24.

 

 

5/28 (D) Access and Roads:

 

1c (D 28th).                48     89%   Conduct a public meeting with comments mandatory before any road closures are mandated.  A majority vote should determine road status.

 

2c (D 28th).                54     100%   List the reasons why a road is closed and review them once a year.  If the need for closure is no longer valid, the road should be opened.

 

3c (D 28th).                53    98%    Forest plans should not be amended without a public hearing process and concurrence by local elected officials that it will have no economic impact. 

 

4c (D 28th).                53     98%   Stop decommissioning roads and removing culverts. Remove all berms.

 

5c (D 28th).                52     96%   Restore decommissioned roads and restore culverts or install rolling swales in place of them.

 

6c (D 28th).                53     98%   Offer more timber sales with purchaser road maintenance.

 

7c (D 28th).                5      9%    Close areas/roads/trails to all uses, not just motorized if wildlife security is critical.

 

8c (D 28th).                51    94%    Do not split home ranges on ridge tops for bear security analysis areas.  Split home ranges at access roads.

 

9c (D 28th).                53    98%   No net loss for all recreational trails and play areas. If the Forest Service has to close anything they should replace it with equivalent quality and quantity of open use areas.

 

 

5/21 (E) Road Access:

 

1b (E 21st).                 69    100%    Require Forest Service to keep and maintain roads.  This can be done by the forest products industry if the Forest Service will only put up timber sales.

 

2b (E 21st).                 69     100%   Require that the entire public forest is open.

 

3b (E 21st).                 60     87%   Make roads built for logging permanent not temporary.

 

4b (E 21st).                 69     100%   Publish for public comment and open process all proposals to close roads.  No instantaneous closing of roads.

 

5b (E 21st).                 69    100%    Stop all decommissioning of roads.  Roads need to be maintained (either gated closed or open) to have access for fire fighting, human emergency, logging, recreation, etc. 

 

6b (E 21st).                 69    100%    Spend funds on other priorities other than on decommissioning roads which is counterproductive.  It would be wiser to spend the $7000 per mile to decommission roads on other important issues such as fighting fires, etc.  We spent $3 million so far and now we have another $3 million to spend to decommission another 379 miles.  Yet we hear Forest Service has no funds for other projects (i.e. trail maintenance, forest fires).

 

7b (E 21st).                 69    100%    Do not decommission any roads without evaluating the use of the road for fire control and prevention, economic and recreational use.

 

 

5/13 (D) Roads:

 

1a (D 13th).               69    100%    Do not rip out roads; gate or barrier if you must.

 

2a (D 13th).               69     100%   Identify a system of roads necessary for interface fire protection.

 

3a (D 13th).               68    99%    Identify roads most valuable for recreation and forest management and administration that is most effective with road maintenance dollars.

 

 

5/13 (A) Healthy Forests:

 

1a (A 13th).               56     81%    Harvesting agricultural value of our forest in a timely manner should be a top priority.

 

(Since the USFS is a division of the USDA, we believe that the agricultural value of our forests should be a top priority and the economic value of the timber to local communities is vital to their health, both forests and communities.)

 

 

2a (A 13th).               61     88%    Restore forest health by aggressively using science based forest management.

 

(Healthy forests equal viable wildlife populations across the landscape, clean and healthy watersheds and fisheries.  The citizens of the Flathead desire proactive forest management to restore forest health with priority on the science of forest management.)

 

3a (A 13th).               64     93%    Maintaining all forest values (watersheds, wildlife, air and water quality, recreation) results from a healthy forest.

 

4a (A 13th).               64     93%   Set a minimum timber harvest goal with a commitment to reach that target within 3 years.

 

(To achieve healthy forests and watersheds requires an amount of wood fiber per acre be removed that equals the annual growth per acres plus the annual mortality per acre.  The Forest Plan should use such a guideline for alternatives.)

 

5a (A 13th).               56    81%    Implement the Healthy Forest Initiative immediately and inform the community of specific actions that result.

 

 

5/21 (A) Forest Management:

 

1b (A 21st).                69    100% Increase salvage sales substantially.   There is enough dead, down, and dying diseased timber at this time that will assist in keeping mills open and help reduce the fuel for possible forest fires.

 

2b (A 21st).                69    100% Reconstruct obliterated and decommissioned forest system roads that are vital to active forest management, protection and human safety.

 

3b (A 21st).                69    100%   Make firewood from slash piles available to public.  Allow slash piles that are scheduled to be burned made available to the public for fire wood gathering prior to burning.

 

4b (A 21st).                47    68%   Leave log landings open for one year following timber harvest.  Sell firewood permits and maps to clean up.

 

5b (A 21st).                68    99%    Eliminate the limit on the harvest of the dead, downed, bug infested, dying trees.  As it is now there is a limit on how much one can harvest.

 

6b (A 21st).                69    100%    Make contracting mandatory for thinning of overstocked, diseased and dying trees.

7b (A 21st).              _69    100%   Remove overabundance of conifer vegetation to provide precipitation for storage in the soil. 

 

(This type of vegetation intercepts normal rain and snow during all seasons causing such moisture to be lost to soil storage due to evapotranspiration.  When forests become overgrown a perpetual drought will exist on the forest floor since the most of the moisture will evaporate into the atmosphere after being intercepted by the tree branches.  The larger the tree the less likelihood any of the moisture will reach the ground surface since each successive whorl of branches further intercepts the overabundance of moisture from branches above).

 

8b (A 21st).                68    99%    Let people cut sub-merchantable trees and use for posts and rails instead of paying for thinning.

 

9b (A 21st).                67    97%    Implement effective Biomass removal rules and procedures.  Biomass is a way to go for a long term solution to fuel buildup!  Biomass provides a market for the trees and debris that must be removed to restore the forest to low intensity fire conditions.

 

5/28 (B) Timber Management:

 

1c (B 28th).            50    93% Remove dead and blow down trees adjacent to existing access with a sell contract and no other paper work.

 

2c (B 28th).            52    96% Make best use of high value dead and down trees.

 

3c (B 28th).            54    100% Manage riparian areas with selective removal of trees to maintain health and control fuel buildup.

 

4c (B 28th).            52    96% Remove fire killed, insect infested, and downed timber from roadless areas by helicopter or winter logging.

 

5c (B 28th).            50    93% Permit small sawmills on some sites.

 

6c (B 28th).            51     94%  Restore the forest by removing encroaching overcrowded trees, reducing ground, ladder and crown fuels and under burning if feasible; so the big trees would live through a fire.

 

7c (B 28th).          51    94%   Log old growth as necessary.

 

 

8c (B 28th).          54     100 % Make forest management decisions on a site specific basis, rather than ecosystem management.

 

 

9c (B 28th).          54    100% Harvest and utilization rate of forest products should least equal the mortality rate of our forest.

 

10c (B 28th).      54___100% Make management policies that take into consideration the heritage, customs and culture of communities adjacent to, and with historic economic dependence on the national forests.

 

5/13 (E) Economics:

 

1a (E 13th).                66     96%   Use all dead and dying timber in local mills before it deteriorates.

 

2a (E 13th).                65     94%   Increase the suitable timber base.

3a (E 13th).                 66    96%    Immediately actively manage for biomass and log adequate acreage to accomplish treatment to attain low intensity fire conditions within 5 years in all designated management area.

 

4a (E 13th).                66     96%   Log areas prior to burning for fuel reduction.

 

5/28 (E) Recreation:

 

1c (E 28th).                51    94%    Construct specific trails without compromising multiple use overall in an area.

 

2c (E 28th).                48     89%   Create ATV park areas where ATVs and motorcycles can travel off roads and trails.

 

3c (E 28th).                51    94%    Stop the practice of closing a section of a trail, and leaving two trails which are not contiguous.

 

4c (E 28th).                51     94%   Allow private airplanes to use all existing landing strips, and maintain them for recreation and emergency use.

 

5/21 (F) Recreation:

 

1b (F 21st).                 69     100%   Develop a publicly acceptable system or systems to meet needs and desires of local residents for forest access and forest management policies.

 

2b (F 21st).                 64     93%   Conduct a public forum to extract and quantify the needs and desires of the affected majority.

 

3b (F 21st).                 56     81%   Develop separate motorized use categories.  Dirt bikes and four wheelers need different trails - dirt bikes need a single track; 4 wheelers need a road base or two tracks.

 

4b (F 21st).                 67     97%   Keep remaining open forest open. (Seventy five percent of the forest is either roadless or wilderness; this leaves 25% of the forest to use for recreation or other uses.  We must keep at least this open for multiple uses).

 

5b (F 21st).                 67     97%   Keep areas open suitable for loop travel for all vehicles, auto, snow cat, motorcycle, 4 wheelers, accessing ridges and vistas.

 

6b (F 21st).                 67    97%    Bring current road and trail closed maps up to date.

 

5/21 (D) Endangered Species:

 

1b (D 21st).                67    97%    Accommodate local cultural concerns and traditions in forest policy. 

 

(As recent news has told, more than a few grizzlies have found themselves happily exploring human/private habitats.  And stories from Yellowstone have shown that humans and bears co-habitat.  The case that grizzlies need security by reducing roads and limiting motorized access has many flaws and has been biased by narrow perspectives.  Current direction in Forest Planning has been unduly influenced by radical agendas.  Leaving large unmanaged landscapes to unchecked natural processes is dangerous and foolish.)

 

2b (D 21st).                64    93%    Require any assessments needed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service to go through a review process by a team on the Flathead National Forest and require that recommendations be generated from a team process rather than by one employee with no review locally.  Any closures of roads must be based in science and data supporting closure even if temporary.

3b (D 21st).              69  100%  Stop tearing up roads until grizzle numbers are found out accurately.  If the Forest Service finds that bear numbers are going up, reopen  roads that have been decommissioned.