Forestry and Wilderness
We have led Lincoln County’s community of forest stakeholders to consensus for forest management that supports both human and animal communities. For endangered species, we campaign for the protection of wildlife corridors and wilderness, while for humans we aim for fire-resistant communities, the peaceful co-existence of humans and wildlife and places for motorized and non-motorized recreation – not just in the Yaak but across Kootenai National Forest.
In addition to working for wilderness protection within the Kootenai’s special wild places, we have brought over a million dollars into Lincoln County through forest restoration projects that employ local contractors, and created restoration plans to ensure this work will continue.
Working with the Stakeholders
The Forest Watch Coordinator plays an active role in a community where the land and its people are inseparable. Working in the forest and in the community, our Coordinator develops working relationships with partners and assumes leadership responsibilities for the Three Rivers District Team as a part of the Kootenai Forest Stakeholder Coalition.
Our current wilderness and recreation designations protect certain wild, roadless areas in the Yaak that are secure refuge for local wildlife. Wilderness designation in these areas is supported by the Kootenai Stakeholders, whose shared goals were brought about by years of collaborative effort and show that on the 2.2 million acres that comprise the Kootenai National Forest, there is space for all values.
Each year, the Yaak Valley Forest Council hosts summer hikes that are free and open to the public. These hikes bring together a diverse group of participants to experience the Yaak Valley’s wild country we’re working to protect, as well as a chance to learn more about native plants and animals from locals who have an intimate knowledge of the landscape.
For more information about management or recreation activities on the Kootenai National Forest and how to get involved, contact Jessie Grossman – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay tuned for more information about summer hikes.
Our Forest Watch team are the eyes, ears, and voice for conservation on the ground. We follow the U.S. Forest Service’s National Environment Policy Act [NEPA] steps on each project, from scoping through to environmental analysis and the draft record of decision, making input where the community indicates concern.
Our years of experience of pre and post harvest monitoring and commitment to follow through on long term monitoring of projects inform further work, such as the creation of Coalition For Recovery, a local group whose goal is to create positive messaging and provide education and outreach opportunities for grizzly bear recovery in the Cabinet-Yaak ecosystem.
The goal of our monitoring program is to bring about forest management that create conditions that sustain the health of our watersheds, wildlife, local communities, and local economies – in the present and future.
The district is exploring the possibility of using the Farm Bill authorities for this project, which has requirements for collaborative participation and allows a streamlined National Environment Policy Act [NEPA] process, meaning the district may consider only one or two alternatives in making their decision. For this reason, early input is critical.
Yaak Valley Forest Council has submitted prescoping comments for this project. More opportunity for public comment is expected in Fall 2016.
The Kootenai Stakeholders are currently working to incorporate our values into this project and determine our level of support.
For more information on this project, go to: http://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=45254
The project area for Buckhorn encompasses nearly 56,000 acres and includes some of the Yaak’s most iconic features including Rock Candy Mountain and Buckhorn Ridge. The Forest Service has about 1,200 acres scheduled for timber harvest and 12,000 acres planned for prescribed burning in this project.
The area contains critical habitat for grizzly bears and big game. Some of the proposed treatment by the agency is intended to enhance huckleberry production for bears and forage for big game. Pre-harvest monitoring on this project is complete and we will begin post-harvest monitoring next summer after logging begins.
The Forest Service was receptive to the concerns from the local community and the Environmental Assessment for the project incorporates many of these concerns.
Our focus concerning this project since first initiated in 2006 has been on how management activities will impact the population of grizzly bears that use the area. Some of the concerns we had during the development of the project included proposed regeneration harvest adjacent to the Roderick Mountain Roadless Area, disturbance to bears caused by activities including road decommissioning of old roads that are currently impassable as well as the use of helicopters, and maintaining wildlife movement corridors in the project area.
The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the project was released in April 2009. Based on our input the FEIS was adjusted to reflect some of our concerns. Changes included less harvest along Burnt Dutch Road #472, elimination of helicopter units adjacent to the Roderick IRA, and more winter harvest while bears are denning. While we were pleased to see these adjustments we still have some concerns, including harvest in a wildlife movement corridor at the summit of the Burnt Dutch Road.
Logging went ahead in 2014, and timber harvest activities and associated post-harvest monitoring are occurring presently.