The Idaho State Snowmobile Association has been involved in a two decade long struggle to keep the Mt. Jefferson area open. ISSA has been through an administrative process—it won, a Congressional fight—it won thanks to Senator Risch and a legal challenge which puts us back in the Administrative process.
The Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest is accepting public comment on a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement to address its Land and Resource Management Plan for Winter Motorized Use. The Plan was adopted in 2009 and challenged in litigation by various anti-access groups. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision in June, 2015, requiring the Forest to revisit certain aspects of its analysis. The Beaverhead-Deerlodge contains many important winter recreation destinations, including prized snowmobiling opportunities at Mount Jefferson.
It is critical that each one of us takes a few minutes to ensure that our voices will be heard in this planning process. You can bet the other side is working hard to make sure those who oppose our use are heard.
Please start with a personal statement about yourself that might include:
- Why snowmobiling is important to you and your family
- If you belong to a club and or ISSA (This is a must)
- Any details about your particular use and enjoyment on the B-D riding areas.
Below are comment themes for you to include or use as a starting point for your comments. You certainly don’t need to use them all. Specific comments ideas include:
- The Court Order does not direct closure of any existing riding opportunities. The Court only requires further analysis to be performed.
- There are no justifiable reasons to restrict winter recreation based on big game winter range issues. Elk are “at or above population objectives” and the elk population across the Forest has GROWN from 28,220 in 2007 to 48,863 in 2015. DSEIS at 97. The USFS acknowledges “that forest wide, winter motorized travel is not affecting elk populations.” OSV travel “has not been identified as an issue for mule deer or moose populations across the Forest. Mountain goats avoid deeper snow accumulations favored by human winter recreationists, and “there are no known cases of conflict with mountain goats as a result of winter recreational activities on the BDNF.”
- There are no justifiable reasons to restrict winter recreation based on concerns about lynx or wolverine. “We are unable to identify any discernible effects to lynx on any of the landscapes” says the USFS. DSEIS at 129. For wolverine, specialists “continue to say that the best scientific information available does not substantiate recreational activities as a threat to wolverines.” DSEIS at 151.
- The District of Montana and Ninth Circuit courts both UPHELD the earlier 2009 plan for Mount Jefferson. The court orders do not compel closure of Mount Jefferson. In truth, it would contradict the orders to rely on them as a basis for restricting long-continuing snowmobile riding at Mount Jefferson.
- The DSEIS does not contain data or analysis that would support restrictions or closure of Mount Jefferson to snowmobiling. The USFS acknowledges that “[c]conflicts among uses are not about physical confrontations between users in the field; it is more about personal values and perceptions of motorized versus non-motorized uses.” DSEIS at 155. The DSEIS contains no information about unique concerns at Mount Jefferson or a trend toward some unacceptable threshold of “illegal” use. Rather, use “has been monitored every year since 2001, documenting motorized intrusions into the closed area each successive year.” DSEIS at 156. The prior decision, which was upheld by the courts, should remain in place.
If you wish to view the DSEIS and provide further detailed comments, you can view it online at http://a123.g.akamai.net/7/123/11558/abc123/forestservic.download.akamai.com/11558/www/nepa/102467_FSPLT3_2619199.pdf.
Comments should be sent to arrive on or before March 3, 2016, and can be sent via e-mail to email@example.com or via mail to:
Melany Glossa, Forest Supervisor
Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest
420 Barrett Street
Dillon, MT 59725