Ashley National Forest

Tock-O

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Hello everyone in Utah and anyone who loves the Uintas!

You have until February 17th to submit your comments!!!!

The USFS has released their draft EIS (environmental impact statement) and draft Land Management Plan for the Ashley National Forest for the next 15 years. Please please please please please please please please please please please read the EIS and management plan and submit your comments by going to the provided link. If you aren't knowledgeable on EIS's , it is basically supposed to be a thorough review of all environmental impact that a development or land management plan will have on public land and the mitigations that will be done to minimize impacts. There is a public commenting period where they have to address every individual's comments. The more comments that they receive, the more likely there will be important issues presented that they haven't considered. The more comments there are that favor a certain action or alternative, the more likely it is to happen.

Since we're hunters, anglers, and funders of conservation, we have the right and responsibility to make sure our concerns and opinions are heard.

Please read the plan and EIS and make your own informed opinion and submit your comments. I will voicing that the only option should be Alternative C.

Below is a general summary of the management plan alternatives along with a link to submit your comment and a link to view the plan and EIS in full.

You have until February 17th to submit your comments!!!!

The USFS is updating their Ashley NF plan (Uintas) for the first time since 1986. This plan will remain in effect for 15 years+. Their proposal includes designating 3 types of areas throughout the forest:
  • Backcountry use: “These areas provide large, undeveloped landscapes suited for dispersed recreation use. The public should expect to see natural landscapes with few amenities, limited management, lower visitor uses and density levels, and a limited Forest Service presence. Wheeled motorized travel is suitable, consistent within the desired recreation opportunity spectrum settings as assigned and on designated roads, trails, and areas, except under alternative C. Mechanized travel (i.e., mountain bikes) is permitted on existing roads and trails.”
  • General recreation areas: “These management areas are where the concept of multiple use is most evident. They are the working landscape where dispersed and developed recreation, fuelwood gathering, vegetation management, livestock grazing, electrical transmission infrastructure, communication sites, and oil and gas production may occur. The public should expect to see a variety of ecosystem conservation management activities and some lands modified to meet multiple-use objectives. A broad spectrum of landscapes, activities, and uses are included, ranging from relatively unaltered lands to areas of active management for purposes of meeting a variety of social, economic, and ecological objectives. Small pockets of concentrated use may exist, but these do not dominate the landscape. In summer, dispersed recreation, camping outside a developed campground, off-highway vehicle riding, and motorized water recreation are the most popular uses.”
  • Destination recreation areas: “The destination recreation areas provide the most intensive recreation development on the Ashley National Forest. The public should expect areas of high-density recreation with high use levels. In winter, portions of these areas provide facilities for winter uses, such as ice fishing and cross-country skiing. Recreationists are attracted to these settings because of the variety of opportunities. Motorized access and support facilities (roads, parking lots, water access and boating support services, campgrounds, resorts, and marinas) are emphasized.”
(definitions direct from the Ashley National Forest Plan DEIS, emphasis added)


These designations are new, and would allow for their listed designations to occur on the land. Below is what they are proposing in terms of acres for each option they are considering:
Current (Alt A)Alternative BAlternative CAlternative D
Backcountryn/a404,200739,700299,000
Motorized use allowed in bc?YESNOYES
Generaln/a670,000340,100769,800
Destinationn/a29,00023,30034,200

There are three concepts for the change they’re considering (Alternative A is the current plan, which they are planning to change). Alternative B is what they would like to do. It allows for updates in grazing, such as swapping out sheep grazing for cattle. It allows for increased developments in motorized use, and opens up some land for requests for oil and gas leasing. It also manages fires, vegetation based on set principles such as stubble height. Alternative C prevents an increase in motorized travel, and sets aside land that would discourage oil and gas proposals. It increases the areas that are designated to be protected from development through various designations (some of which the USFS would propose but cannot designate themselves, such as wild and scenic river designations). Alternative D allows for significant areas to be designated as general use, which encourages developments in roads, oil and gas, timber harvest, and does not place restrictions on grazing vegetation stubble. This one aims to allow for parking lots, roads, and increased access. (The USFS notes that oil, gas, and mineral leases can occur on any alternative with the required roads, etc and that each lease would be subject to the same process).
Below is a chart from the USFS that shows some of their plans under each alternative:
Current (Alt A)Alternative BAlternative CAlternative D
GrazingIf allotment isn’t used for 5 years it could be changed to cattle or closed.Current allotments could be switched to cattle, or could be used as a horse or cattle “forage reserve.” Limits on new permits.Limits on new permits and potential to close permits that could compromise native bighorn sheepAllotments should be managed to mitigate risks to bighorn sheep.
New wilderness areas in acres--10,30050,2000
Research areas in acres7,7007,7009,1007,700
Wild and scenic riversGreen River (6 miles)
Uinta River (42 miles)
Green River (6 miles) Uinta River (42 miles) Dowd Creek (3.1 miles) Honslinger Creek (2.3 miles) Spring Creek 2 (6.8 miles) North Skull Creek (1.8 miles)Sames as ASame as A


To comment on concerns, impacts, or suggest which alternative you feel would best represent you as a citizen and hunter, you can comment here: https://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public/CommentInput?Project=49606 Information on the plan and maps of the designations is here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/ashley/landmanagement/planning
 
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