Forest Service Seeks Public Comment on Blackfoot Travel Plan Proposed Action
The Helena National Forest is proposing changes to its existing system of non-winter motorized public access routes within the non-Wilderness lands of the Lincoln Ranger District. Members of the public are encouraged to submit their comments on this proposed action by November 30, 2010.
"The Blackfoot Travel Plan will provide us with the opportunity to develop an implementable plan that allows us to manage for motorized use in designated areas while balancing those uses with needs for high quality wildlife habitat, clean water, and other natural resources across the district," Lincoln District Ranger Amber Kamps said. "Travel planning can be challenging; however, it is necessary in order for us to move toward the desired conditions for the Forest."
The Blackfoot Travel Plan project area includes about 321,500 acres of National Forest System lands in Lewis & Clark and Powell counties. In general, Blackfoot Travel Plan proposed actions include the following:
- physically closing, storing, decommissioning, relocating or constructing some roads and trails;
- change seasonal restrictions on certain roads and trails;
- closure of various user-created trails;
- changing the vehicle class authorized on certain roads and trails;
- designating certain roads and trails for non-motorized use; and
- constructing new mountain bike trails.
All proposed actions within the Blackfoot Travel Plan will comply with the requirements to provide secure habitat for Grizzly Bears. On the Lincoln Ranger District, the entire area north of Highway 200 is within the Northern Continental Divide Ecoysystem (NCDE) Grizzly Bear recovery zone. Certain roads will be "stored" and self-maintained in a non-use status for up to 20 years, which will help provide effective closures and secure habitat for Grizzly Bears, as required in NCDE recovery zones.
"It is our responsibility, as land and resource specialists, to manage our forests for many different purposes and uses," Kamps said. "This objective becomes increasingly important when we begin to develop a travel plan that impacts every current and future forest recreationalist."
Originally initiated in 2003, the Blackfoot Travel Plan was revised after the Forest Service issued new travel planning regulations in 2005. These new regulations changed the scope of the 2003 travel plan and emphasized community and public collaboration in developing a new travel plan proposed action.
"Members of the Lincoln community are very engaged in the management of their public lands, especially as it relates to travel planning," Kamps said. "People with differing recreational values continue to work together to find a balance between motorized and non-motorized recreational opportunities."
All areas open to motor vehicles are required to be designated on a Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) for the public. The MVUM is published once the final decision is made and implementation of the plan begins.
"We do not know what the final decision will look like for the Blackfoot Travel Plan," Kamps said. "What we do know is that comments from the public are very important and can help shape the alternatives for this project. We strongly encourage people to submit specific comments about our proposed action."
Members of the public have until November 30, 2010 to submit their comments to the Lincoln Ranger District. Comments can be submitted via email to [email protected] (please write "Blackfoot Travel Plan" in the subject line of the email message), or by regular mail to: Lincoln Ranger District, 1569 Hwy 200, Lincoln, MT 59639. Please be as specific as possible with the comments.
Staff members will be available to answer questions or provide more information to the public about the Blackfoot Travel Plan on November 18 and 30, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Lincoln Ranger District office. In the meantime, for additional information people can visit our website at Helena National Forest - Welcome! (click on "Projects and Plans" in the left column) or contact the Lincoln Ranger District office at 406-362-7000.
For more information, contact Fety at##########################
Director of Environmental Affairs [email protected]