As of Tuesday, February 23, 2016
Following more than seven years of development, the former Nez Perce National Forest is getting a new travel plan.
Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests supervisor Cheryl Probert has selected a mix of motorized and non-motorized recreation that “seems to best fit the landscape and natural resources of the forest,” the combined forests announced Monday, Feb. 22.
According to the agency, the alternative Probert chose reflects the information the Forest Service considered in the years-long planning process. The decision, the process, and the consideration of public comments, are documented in a final environmental impact statement (FEIS) available online at http://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=17752.
The draft decision does not propose to decommission roads or trails on the forest nor does it designate use for over-snow vehicles.
Probert’s alternative designates 2,353 miles of roads and trails open for yearlong or seasonal motorized use, a reduction of 25 miles from the existing condition. Three new connector trails (1.1 miles), proposed by the public will also be added to the trail system. The draft decision also includes monitoring the effect of motor vehicle use on fisheries and heritage resources, and recreational use along the Coolwater Ridge area.
Of the 2,353 miles Probert’s alternative would keep open, 1,963 miles are roads and 390 miles are trails. In addition, 1,762 miles of road, 693 miles of trails outside of wilderness areas will be open to non-motorized use. Each segment of motorized road and trail includes a designation of the type of vehicles which would be allowed. The designations are: all vehicles, vehicles less than 50 inches in width, or motorcycles.
With this proposed decision, no areas will be designated for motorized use. The number of acres restricted from off-route motor vehicle use will change from 228,197 to 1,004,428 acres. Motor vehicle travel off the designated roads and trails would not be allowed. All roads, trails and areas are closed to motorized use unless designated as open.
Probert’s alternative would see motorized recreation seasons change. Motorized use of 846 miles of roads and 88 miles of trails would be yearlong. Motorized use will be seasonal on 1,117 miles of roads and 302 miles of trails. The proposed decision would increase seasonal use on 198 miles of road and 200 miles of trail from the existing condition.
Probert’s alternative also provides non-motorized opportunities on trails in or adjacent to Gospel Hump, Mallard, West Fork–Crooked River, Rapid River, Salmon Face, Selway–Bitterroot, and Silver Creek- Pilot Knob Idaho Roadless Areas.
Road or trail access to private inholdings was a consideration. Probert’s alternative maintains the same motorized access that is currently provided.
Other key points of decision:
- Routes not on the Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) will no longer be available for motorized use.
- Motor vehicle access for dispersed camping will be allowed up to 300 feet from most designated roads and trails following specific conditions of use; however, dispersed camping is not allowed along 18 miles of roads and 34 miles of trails.
- Parking will be allowed one vehicle length off from designated roads. One vehicle length is defined as the length of a vehicle and a trailer (e.g. boat, horse, or camper). Parking will be allowed only when it is safe to do so without creating resource damage and follow forest orders or prohibitions.
- Terminal facilities, trailheads, parking lots, and turnouts associated with the designated road or trail will be included as open.
- Retrieval of downed big game using motorized vehicles, will be restricted to designated motorized use roads and trails.
- Gathering firewood using motor vehicles will continue to follow the terms of personal use firewood permits.
- The MVUM will be the enforcement tool when the maps are distributed.
The DRAMVU project Final EIS and Draft ROD are posted online: http://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=17752. This Final EIS and Draft ROD are subject to the pre-decisional administrative review process (objection process). The notice of availability, published in the Lewiston Tribune, starts the official 45-day objection filing period. Only those who have previously submitted specific written comments regarding the DRAMVU planning effort may file an objection. The objection filing period will be followed by a 45-day objection resolution period.
Once the objection process is completed, the Forest will issue the DRAMVU project Final Record of Decision (Final ROD). From that decision, and other motor vehicle access decisions, the Nez Perce National Forest MVUM will be prepared. The MVUM will display only the roads and trails which are open to motorized access. It will also include the specific types of vehicles allowed and the season of use. The MVUM will not include over-snow vehicle use or non-motorized use. The MVUM is the legal document that shows what roads and trails are open. The MVUM will be free to the public at local Forest Service Offices and available to view or download from the Forest website.
For information: Jennie Fischer, project team leader, 983-4048.