local weather Click for Sun Valley, Idaho Forecast
 front page

 last week

 express jobs
 about us
 advertising info
 sun valley guide
 real estate guide
 sv catalogs
Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
208.726.8060 Voice
208.726.2329 Fax

Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

For the week of August 6 - 12, 2003


Forests release new planning blueprints

Forest health cited as priority

"We ask people to be patient. Changes will not occur overnight and it will take time, years in many cases, to see the results. We will also need to amend or update the plans periodically and ask for your input and involvement in helping to correct problems when they are identified."

RUTH MONAHAN, Sawtooth National Forest supervisor

Express Staff Writer

With the release of new forest plans last week, the Sawtooth, Boise and Payette National Forests said they are turning management focus away from what the forests can produce and toward improving forest health.

The three forests announced completion of the land management plans and an associated environmental impact statement on Thursday, July 31. Release of the documents caps seven years of public involvement, drafting and redrafting.

The new documents establish new operational blueprints for 6.6 million acres of federally managed land through the next 10 to 15 years.

"We realize that the decisions being made for future management of the three forests will not please everyone on every topic," said Payette National Forest Supervisor Mark Madrid.

Forest plans are similar to municipal comprehensive plans. They set the courses for future management of publicly owned lands and are broad in scope. While they do not make site-specific decisions, they provide rough guidelines for subsequent projects to follow.

Original forest plans were developed in 1987 for the Sawtooth Forest, 1988 for the Payette Forest and 1990 for the Boise Forest. According to a Forest Service press release, the revised plans emphasize restoration or maintenance of vegetation and watershed conditions and focus on the condition of the forests rather than on what they can produce.

"Managing and protecting the natural resources on the 6.6 million acres … is very complex and demanding," said Sawtooth National Forest Supervisor Ruth Monahan. "We ask people to be patient. Changes will not occur overnight, and it will take time, years in many cases, to see the results. We will also need to amend or update the plans periodically and ask for your input and involvement in helping to correct problems when they are identified."

The Idaho Conservation League believes it has already identified a problem.

"Unfortunately the plans open the door to salvage logging—with no ecological benefits—on three-fourths of the roadless areas," said ICL Policy Director John McCarthy. "Salvage logging might have conceptual economic benefits, but in reality there is no competitive market and limited sawmills. The Forest Service intention must be to continue to play politics with our public lands."

The plan allows for the possibility of salvage logging on almost 70 percent of forest land covered under the federal Roadless Initiative. That includes 147,000 acres within the 2.6 million acres of road-free land on the three forests.

The Idaho Conservation League, and other environmental groups, worked with Forest Service planners to identify critical areas near homes and communities to protect through fuels reductions.

McCarthy said fire plans for fuels reduction and ecological restoration are improved in the new Forest Plans, but few of the remote road-free areas that could be opened to salvage logging border the "wildland urban interface" near homes and communities where fuels treatments may be most effective.

"No ecological benefits are established by science or experience for salvage logging, while risks for wildlife, water quality, recreation and economic viability are high," McCarthy said.

However, the plan also reduces the land considered suitable for commercial timber sales from 1.75 million to 1 million acres and retains a long-standing recommendation for 655,000 acres of additional wilderness. It calls for no development activity on another 620,000 acres of road-free land.

At a public hearing in Ketchum in 2001, local residents said they approve of the Forest Service’s conservation-minded approach in the then-draft documents.

McCarthy also stressed his approval.

"The emphasis on species conservation and restoration is welcome and long overdue," he said.



City of Ketchum

Formula Sports


Edmark GM Superstore : Nampa, Idaho

Premier Resorts Sun Valley

High Country Property Rentals

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.