Ensure the Future of the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest

 

Chinese Wall, Rocky Mountain Ranger District, Lewis and Clar

Make your voice heard by writing your own comment, or signing on to our citizen letter below. Include personal anecdotes and concerns in your own comment, and feel free to use any of our talking points. Submit your comment to the Forest Service no later than March 30, 2017.

Sign on to our letter:

Bill Avey, Forest Supervisor
Forest Plan Revision
Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest
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.


photo: Chinese Wall, Rocky Mountain Ranger District, Lewis and Clark National Forest— flickr creative commons, Forest Service Northern Region

  Sincerely,

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