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Bill Avey, Forest
Forest Plan Revision
Helena-Lewis and Clark
2880 Skyway Dr.
Helena, MT 59602
Dear Forest Supervisor Avey,
From the Missouri, Clark
Fork and Blackfoot rivers carving through scenic intermountain valleys, to
island mountain ranges with alpine ridges and glacial lakes, the Helena-Lewis
and Clark National Forest supports a magnificent diversity of vegetation and
wildlife. We support revising the Helena-Lewis and Clark Forest Plan to account
for changes in conditions and demands since 1986 and provide for social,
economic, and ecological sustainability. But, we are very concerned that the
draft plan falls well short of what is necessary to adequately protect wildlife
and wild places over the next fifteen years.
The Forest Service must
draft a forest plan revision that reflects the best available science. We are
especially concerned about the weakened habitat direction proposed for
imperiled wildlife including Canada lynx, grizzly bear, and bull trout.
Eliminating road density standards established to protect grizzly bears at a
time when the species faces threats to remove vital Endangered Species Act
protections runs counter to best available science and common logic. Moreover,
the Helena-Lewis and Clark establishes a critical link between the Kootenai,
Flathead, Lolo, and Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forests, as well as Glacier
National Park and therefore has a heightened duty to ensure for habitat
connectivity consistent with the agency’s planning rules.
We applaud the draft
forest plan components directed at creating a future of resiliency in the face
of climate change. To ensure that resiliency, however, the draft plan must
direct the forest to identify a smaller, financially sustainable future road
system that fits within the agency’s limited budget and minimizes environmental
damage. It should include deadlines for achieving a smaller road system, built
to ensure safe public access to our favorite wild places and to withstand
fluctuating weather patterns due to climate change. Instead of increasing
off-road vehicles and snowmobile use on the forest, the Forest Service should
prioritize protecting our remaining wild resources for future generations. This
includes designating all roadless areas as recommended wilderness.
The Forest Service should
seize this opportunity to chart a new path for the Helena-Lewis and Clark
National Forest that re-establishes a balance of uses and ensures the continued
survival and recovery of Canada lynx, grizzly bear, bull trout and wolverine.
Wall, Rocky Mountain Ranger District, Lewis and Clark National Forest—
creative commons, Forest Service Northern Region