The Sawtooth National Forest is asking for public comment regarding its proposal to eliminate cross-country motorized travel in certain areas in exchange for a set of designated motorized roads and trails.
Affected areas in the Ketchum Ranger District include a chunk in the Smoky Mountains from the Warm Springs drainage south to the Greenhorn Gulch area, and the Cove Creek area southeast of Triumph in the East Fork of the Big Wood River drainage.
"All the rest of the areas are under some type of old travel management requirements," said Ketchum District Ranger Kurt Nelson. "We just have a couple areas here in Ketchum that we have been wanting to move into a designated road and trail type of management."
There are no new roads or trails being proposed. Only existing roads and trails can be designated for motorized use.
The measure is part of an ongoing effort to revise the forest's current snow-free season visitor and travel plan.
Acting Forest Supervisor Doug Gochnour said the first objective is to bring motorized vehicle use on the Sawtooth National Forest into compliance with the Forest Land Management Plan.
"Secondly, we need to implement and be in compliance with the new rule governing motorized use nationally on all National Forest system lands," Gochnour said about the rule that was finalized in 2005.
The final step is "to provide a quality motorized road and trail system on the forest," he added.
The formal 30-day public comment period, designed to give citizens a chance to suggest changes to the proposed action prior to a final decision, began Oct. 4.
Comments submitted prior to Oct. 4 will be reviewed and considered by the Forest Service in its environmental assessment. But those who wish to have standing to appeal the decision need to resubmit comments during this 30-day period.
The Forest Service prepared and released its proposed action in late July. It can be viewed online at www.fs.fed.us/r4/sawtooth/projects. Copies can also be obtained at the Ketchum, Minidoka and Fairfield district offices or at the forest headquarters in Twin Falls.
In addition to the designation of existing roads and trails for motorized use, the Forest Service has proposed closing certain motorized trails or roads that go to the same destination, listing proposed trails or roads identified for future planning and designating dispersed camping sites or corridors.
Following the comment period, the Forest Service will prepare an environmental assessment.
A final decision is expected to be made in February 2007 with implementation of the revised travel management plan targeted for May 2007.