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Lolo NF seeks bear plan comments

by Clark Fork Valley Press
| August 19, 2020 4:48 PM

The U.S. Forest Service is inviting comments on an Environmental Assessment for the Bear Management Unit 22 Compliance project located north of Thompson Falls in Sanders County on the Plains/Thompson Falls Ranger District.

The Lolo National Forest is proposing to conduct management actions on specific roads and trails within a portion of the Cabinet-Yaak Grizzly Bear Recovery Zone in Northwest Montana in order to comply with the Lolo Forest Plan as amended in 2011 by the Forest Plan Amendments for Motorized Access Management within the Selkirk and Cabinet-Yaak Grizzly Bear Recovery Zones Record of Decision (Access Amendment).

The Access Amendment standards were developed in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to provide a sufficient level of available grizzly bear habitat while allowing for other authorized motorized uses on National Forest System lands.

The Lolo National Forest has been making progress toward meeting the Access Amendment

standards for motorized route density within BMU 22 for several years.

This project would bring the Forest into compliance with the Access Amendment while minimizing impacts to public motorized use. Roads proposed to be stored or decommissioned are either already barricaded or grown-in with vegetation and not currently drivable by the public.

However, multiple miles of single-track trail that are currently available to motorized (motorcycle) use would be changed to non-motorized use only.

In response to community concerns regarding loss of motorized access to some trails proposed, the Forest Service developed an alternative in which those trails would remain available to motorized use, but additional miles of drivable road would be closed to motorized use in order to achieve compliance with the Access Amendment.

“We recognize there are tradeoffs associated with either alternative, but we think we have

come up with a couple of options that will bring the Forest into compliance with the Access Amendment with as little impact as possible to the public,” said Erin Carey, District Ranger. “We look forward to hearing what the public thinks.”

The Forest Service is accepting comments on the proposed project through Sept. 10.

Comments may be sent to the BMU 22 Project Leader at P.O. Box 429 in Plains, Montana 59859, delivered in person to the Plains/Thompson Falls Ranger District at 408 Clayton Street, Plains, Montana 59859, or emailed to comments-northern-lolo-plains-thompsonfalls@usda.gov.

Further information on this project is available online at

https://www.fs.usda.gov/projects/lolo/landmanagement/projects.