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Wanna ride with the Grizzly?

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The Forest Service wants to know

The Kootenai, Lolo, and Idaho Panhandle National Forests are issuing a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement to amend their respective Forest Plans and the standards that address wheeled motorized vehicle access management within the Selkirk and Cabinet-Yaak Grizzly Bear Recovery Zones in northern Idaho and northwestern Montana. In this DSEIS, Alternative E as updated, is identified as the Preferred Alternative.

This DSEIS examines the effects of setting predetermined levels of human (wheeled motorized) access within grizzly bear recovery zones on the Kootenai, Lolo, and Idaho Panhandle National Forests. The DSEIS is programmatic; hence, site-specific decisions on individual roads or trails will be addressed in project-level planning on the three Forests. Proposals for site-specific actions will be developed through the National Environmental Policy Act process, which includes public involvement.

In 2002, the three Forests completed a Final EIS for their Forest Plan amendments. The 2002 FEIS included alternatives that proposed varying levels of wheeled motorized access management on each Forest, and were related to the 1998 Interim Access Management Rule Set issued by the Selkirk/Cabinet Yaak Subcommittee of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee. At that time, Alternative E was identified as the agency’s Selected Alternative in its 2004 Record of Decision.

Litigation in 2006 resulted in the U.S. District Court of Montana “setting aside” the 2002 FEIS and 2004 ROD and directed the Forest Service to prepare a new environmental analysis. As such, the Draft SEIS addresses the Court’s ruling by supplementing information in the 2002 FEIS and 2004 ROD by incorporating new information on grizzly bear populations, the latest research, and associated analysis. In the Draft SEIS, Alternative E has been updated and is identified as the agency’s Preferred Alternative. Additionally, Alternative D has been modified and analyzed in detail to respond to the best science for the Selkirk and Cabinet-Yaak Grizzly Bear Recovery Zones.

Publication of the Notice of Availability in the Federal Register for the Draft SEIS, anticipated by May 8, 2009, initiates a 45-day public comment period. Written comments must be received or postmarked by June 22, 2009. Please send comments to: Ranotta McNair, Forest Supervisor, Idaho Panhandle National Forests, 3815 Schreiber Way, Coeur d’Alene, ID 83815 or you can send them via email to: comments-northern-idpanhandle(at)fs.fed.us. The subject line must contain the name of the project for which you are submitting comments, in this case: Forest Plan Amendments for Motorized Access Management DSEIS. To be most useful, comments should be clear, concise, and relevant to the analysis, including specific merits of alternatives discussed and the adequacy of the analysis and disclosure of effects.

Copies of the Draft SEIS are available here or here. In addition, they are available for review at public libraries in the Idaho communities of Priest River, Sandpoint, Bonners Ferry, and Coeur d’Alene; and in the Montana communities of Troy and Libby.

For more information on the Draft SEIS or for a CD of the Draft SEIS, please contact Karl Dekome, Team Leader, Idaho Panhandle National Forests Supervisor’s Office at (208) 765-7479 or John Gubel, Kootenai National Forest Supervisor’s Office at (406) 283-7774.

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Author info

Jodi Kramer Jodi Kramer is the Public Affairs Officer/Writer Editor/Admin. Asst. for the KIPZ Revision Team of the Kootenai and Idaho Panhandle National Forests.

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