Blackfoot Valley Dispatch - The Blackfoot Valley's News Source Since 1980

By Roger Dey
Blackfoot Valley Dispatch 

Public Comment period on HLCNF Draft Forest Plan Revision, Draft EIS extended


September 5, 2018


A map shows the four Recommended Wilderness areas proposed for the Lincoln area under Alternative D of the draft revised forest plan.

Residents of Lincoln who are concerned about missing the deadline to comment on the draft environmental impact statement and draft revised forest management plan will have more time to get make their concerns about the plan known.

The new deadline to comment on the draft is Tuesday, Oct. 9.

According to a press release issued Aug. 30, Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest Supervisor Bill Avey chose to extend public comment period on the Forest Plan revision by one month after receiving "a handful" of requests to do so.

The press release didn't say if the requests for the extension stemmed from a specific concern.

The Forest Service released the draft forest plan revision and DEIS June 8 for a 90-day public review and comment period and the Forest Plan Revision Team hosted a series of meetings in communities around the forest in late July to answer questions about the plan and the five alternatives included in the DEIS. They hosted the meeting in Lincoln July 30 at the Lincoln Community Hall

Forest Plan Revision Team leader Deb Entwhistle said at the meeting that it's important that people submit comments specific to the parts of the draft documents people would like to see changed.

"The more they say about what they don't like, or do like, versus just general statements, would be helpful," she said.

The major topic of concern voiced by Lincoln residents has been the proposed designation of four Recommended Wilderness Areas in the Lincoln Ranger District, which surrounds the community. The four RWAs comprise a combined total of more than 105,556 acres. The largest, the 51,000 acre Nevada Mountain RWA south of Lincoln, extends beyond the Lincoln District boundary into the Helena Ranger District.

The RWA's around Lincoln would cover roughly a third of the Lincoln Ranger District's 250,000 non-wilderness acres.

Although only Congress can designate wilderness, Recommended Wilderness Areas are areas deemed suitable as wilderness areas and, as the name suggests, are recommended for such designation. Although RWAs can be managed more liberally that designated wilderness, even allowing for multiple use and timber harvest, there is concern by many locals that the areas would be treated as defacto wilderness prohibiting any mechanized or mechanical uses.


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