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Forest Plan Revisions

Comment period has ended.  Thank you for submitting comments.

The U.S. Forest Service has released the first drafts of the Revised Forest Plan for the Idaho Panhandle National Forest and Kootenai National Forest. The National Forest Management Act, landmark legislation passed by Congress in the 1970s, requires the Forest Service to prepare management plans for each national forest and update them every 15 years or so.

CLICK HERE to read the draft revised Forest Plans at the Forest Service website.

The Lands Council's Forest Watch program has watchdogged implementation of the original Forest Plans since their inception in 1987, and our efforts have helped achieve critical protections for roadless areas, old-growth forests, and wildlife.

There remain a total of 1,489,029 acres of unprotected inventoried roadless lands on these two national forests, yet the draft Revised Forest Plans recommend only 252,100 acres-less than 17% of the Inventoried Roadless Area acreage-for protection as Wilderness.

The draft plans also propose to significantly weaken protections for old growth, opening the door to potentially destructive timber sales in the little remaining old growth and other pristine mature forest habitat.

Additionally, old-growth forests provide an essential means for moderating the effects of climate change, since they are extremely valuable for sequestering carbon that could otherwise be released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide following logging and removal from the forest. Scientists say that deforestation and forest degradation are the second largest source of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.

CLICK HERE to read a short synopsis from our review of the draft revised forest plans (RFPs).

Please send your comments to the Forest Supervisors, urging them to increase protections for roadless areas, old growth and wildlife on both the Kootenai and Idaho Panhandle National Forests!

Deadline for comments has been extended to May 7, 2012

Send your comments to:

Idaho Panhandle National Forest

3815 Schreiber Way

Coeur d'Alene ID 83815

email: IPNFplanrevision@fs.fed.us

Kootenai National Forest

31374 Highway 2 West

Libby, MT 59923

email: KNFplanrevision@fs.fed.us


Sample letter:

Dear Supervisors Bradford and Farnsworth:

I offer the following comments on the drafts of the revision of the Forest Plan for the Kootenai and Idaho Panhandle National Forests. I am writing one letter because the issues I raise are presented with identical language in both draft revised Forest Plans.

First, I note that of the 1,489,029 acres of inventoried roadless lands found on these national forests, the draft Forest Plans only recommend 252,100 acres-less that 17% of all the roadless acres--for protection as Wilderness. Undeveloped wildlands are valuable habitats for wildlife, including places for rare and endangered species such as grizzly bears, woodland caribou, wolverines, and lynx. They also provide sources for clean air and water, scenic beauty, and quiet recreation unlike developed areas on national forests and land of other ownerships. I request that the new forest plans recommend all of the roadless areas be recommended for Wilderness protection.

I am also concerned because the draft Forest Plans fail to provide adequate standards for protection of old-growth forests. The draft standards would allow logging in most of the remaining old growth, degrading or destroying habitat components very much needed for dozens of species of wildlife.

The new Forest Plans must include Standards that prohibit all logging in all old growth, with extremely limited exceptions for cases where the scientific opinion is unequivocal that light one-time treatments would improve habitat for both the short- and long-term.

The new Forest Plans must also include minimum Standards that require at least 30% of the Forests be managed for old growth, well-distributed across the landscape, in accord with your own scientific information. This could easily be integrated into the designation of areas for recruitment of future old growth, where past logging and natural disturbances have reduced the current amounts below the historic norm, and to factor in that present old growth will eventually be lost over time due to successional forces such as fire, insects, windstorms, and other natural events.

The new Forest Plans must also include strong direction to maintain an inventory of old growth, so the public will know how much old growth remains, and where it is found.

The new Forest Plans must also contain standards prohibiting road construction and firewood gathering in old-growth.

It is also extremely important that the final revised Forest Plans require continuous monitoring of the population trends of old-growth associated wildlife. Please select management indicator species whose special habitat needs are best found in old growth, such as the pileated woodpecker, woodland caribou, Canada lynx, northern goshawk, flammulated owl, and fisher, because their population changes can indicate the effects of management activities on other wildlife as well as entire biological communities.

Finally, we remind you that old-growth forests provide an essential means to mitigate the effects of climate change, since they are extremely valuable for the sequestration of carbon. Scientists say that deforestation and forest degradation are the second largest source of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. We all have the responsibility to live more sustainably so future generations have the same opportunity to enjoy our natural world.

Thank you for considering my comments.


(Your name, address, telephone)


 For more information contact Jeff Juel, Forest Policy Director, or call 509.209.2401


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