Northeast Washington Forestry Coalition statement on Revised Colville Forest Plan

Northeast Washington Forestry Coalition statement on Revised Colville Forest Plan

ConservationNWAdmin / Nov 07, 2018 / Cascades to Rockies, Columbia Highlands, Forest Field Program, National Forests

Plan for northeast Washington national forest lacks sufficient recommended wilderness for important roadless areas.

Yesterday, the Northeast Washington Forestry Coalition (NEWFC) submitted an objection regarding the Revised Colville Forest Plan, which will guide the next ten years of management decisions on northeast Washington’s Colville National Forest. The below statement was also released regarding the objection.

Hikers enjoy a day on Abercrombie Mountain in a Colville National Forest Roadless Area. Photo: Craig Romano

Conservation Northwest has long been a NEWFC member organization, represented by our Colville Forest Field staffer Tiana LukeWe’ve been committed to collaboration on the Colville National Forest for more than 15 years and fully support this objection we’ve made with our collaborative partners.

Conservation Northwest, The Lands Council and Kettle Range Conservation Group also filed a separate objection expressing additional concerns related to wildlife habitat connectivity and watershed protection.

The Revised Colville Forest Plan recommends just 62,000 acres as wilderness, omitting approximately 168,000 acres of wilderness-quality lands and allows activities that could jeopardize the wilderness characteristics on the measly number of acres it recommends.

In collaboration with NEWFC, we asked that the plan include additional areas as Recommended Wilderness including Hoodoo, Thirteenmile, Profanity, all of Bald Snow and the western half of Twin Sisters Inventoried Roadless Areas. We asked that the plan manage the recommended wilderness the same as Designated Wilderness so the values are maintained.

The vista from Abercrombie-Hooknose Roadless Area. Photo: Eric Zamora

The thousands of acres not recommended as wilderness provide outstanding opportunities for outdoor recreation, including hiking, backpacking, hunting, backcountry skiing and snowshoeing, horseback riding, and wildlife viewing—all are within an easy day’s drive from the greater Spokane area.

These areas provide the wild, scenic backdrop for the region’s many scenic driving routes and communities that promote the rustic, remote backcountry as part of a growing recreation and tourism economy.

Read more about our concerns in the NEWFC statement below, and in this September 2018 blog from our local staffer Tiana Luke

 

NEWFC Statement on the revised Colville Forest Plan

November 6, 201

The Colville National Forest recently issued a revised forest plan to guide management activities on the 1.1 million acres of national forest in northeast Washington. As a group rooted in collaboration, the Northeast Washington Forest Coalition (NEWFC) strives to reach consensus and find supportive common ground. The leadership of the Colville National Forest (CNF) has done a commendable job assembling a plan to set the management direction of the forest. NEWFC remains committed to seeking solutions for forest management that meet the interests of the community and support a resilient environment.

“Although we appreciate the amount of work that’s been put into this Forest Plan it’s too bad it doesn’t better reflect collaborative discussions” said Russ Vaagen of Vaagen Timbers, President of the NEWFC Board of Directors. “Land Allocation discussions are contentious, always have been, but we need to work to develop solutions that include Wilderness. The Inventoried Roadless Areas in question should either be Wilderness or they should receive more permanent protective language. I would recommend a collaborative process where all of the interests are heard in order to develop a long-term solution for these beautiful places that doesn’t leave anyone behind.”

“Many Inventoried Roadless Areas on and near the Kettle Crest and Selkirk mountains received high ratings during the Colville’s potential wilderness evaluations and should be designated as Recommended for Wilderness in the revised forest plan revision.” said NEWFC Vice President Mike Petersen of The Lands Council.

While many of NEWFC’s recommendations are offered in Alternative B, there are key elements that are missing and many key issues such as harvest volume, recreation and roadless protection need to be clarified. NEWFC looks forward to working with the Colville National Forest and other stakeholders to find resolutions that will create a Forest Plan everyone can support.

Read more about northeast Washington’s Colville National Forest and Columbia Highlands on this webpage