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A plan for our National Forests

by The Western News
| February 23, 2012 3:27 PM

An author of the U.S. Forest Service’s Draft Forest Proposal, a 28-year veteran with the agency, said Friday the plan is diverse enough to meet the needs and interests of all the entities.

“I’ve heard people say that this group doesn’t like it, and that group doesn’t like it, so it must be a good plan,” said Ellen Frament. “I know we’re not going to please everyone, but I don’t know if not pleasing anyone is the means to measure its validity. That logic is a little difficult to me, but I can say a cross-section of all the stakeholders were considered.”

Frament has been with the U.S. Forest Service for nearly three decades, coming to the Kootenai National Forest Supervisor’s Office, — her third USFS duty station — in 2000.  The wife of a retired U.S. Forest Service worker, as Forest Planner, she leads a team writing the current Draft Forest Proposal.

During an interview, Frament defended the current Draft Proposal, saying it addresses concerns from various community groups while furthering the government’s concerns about the Endangered Species Act (ESA), namely the grizzly bear and the bull trout.

“This is a good plan. It addresses the ESA concerns,” Frament said during the interview in the office of KNF Supervisor Paul Bradford.

The veteran Forest Service employee with a bachelor’s degree in Natural Science and a master’s in Forest Economics said this plan takes into consideration all aspects of the woodlands: The Endangered Species Act; the logging interests; the recreational, and the road issues.

  “I do think this plan actively tries to manage the forests,” Frament said. “The Forest Service took into consideration all aspects in writing this plan.”

   And, certainly, she understand there are those who would believe the USFS has a hidden agenda in this, but she said that is just not so.

   “Yes, there are budget cuts, and some of the roads being closed are being done because we can no longer maintain them,” Frament said. “That’s part of it.”

   The USFS conducted four open forums on the current plan, which offers four options — Alternatives A through D. The USFS favors Alternative B, which is the plan the agency put forth now a decade ago that was delayed by the courts.

   A fifth forum begins at 4 p.m. today, Feb. 22, at the Yaak Community Hall. Frament will attend the gathering, which, unlike the first four that lasted three hours, lasts until 6 p.m.

   “We actually had better turnouts at Trout Creek and Troy than we did in Libby,” Frament said. “We’re staging the fifth forum because we were asked to by the Yaak Forest Council.

During a recent interview with three members of the Yaak Forest Council, Robyn King, president, Matt Bowser and Bill Martin of the Cabinet Resource Group expressed a desire to work with the USFS.

   “All of have the concerns that the wilderness concerns won’t be met,” King said. “We feel like it’s better to work together, with the Forest Service, to achieve our goals. If we don’t, we don’t know what we’ll get.”

   King’s sentiments were echoed by Bowser and Martin.

  “I feel we’ve all got reservations (about the plan), but the only way we’re going to get what we want is to work together,” Martin said.

   The four alternatives include Alternative A, which basically leaves the existing plan.

   Alternative B, which the USFS prefers, allows for 75 percent of the woodlands to remain General Forest.

 Plan C allows for 59 percent of the woodlands to remain as General Forest. The acreage suitable for timber production is 34 percent.

   Alternative D also allows for 38 percent of the woodlands for timber production. It was the proposal preferred by two outdoorsmen interviewed during the Libby Forum on Jan. 25.

   Documents explaining the Alternatives are available for download and review online at www.fs.fed.us/kipz. These documents are also available for viewing at all of the Ranger District Offices and the Supervisor’s Office. Compact discs or hard copies of these documents may be requested by phone 293-6211 or email (r1_kipz_revision@fs.fed.us).

   Written or electronic comments will be accepted for 90 days and should be submitted to: Kootenai National Forest, Forest Plan Revision, 31374 Hwy 2, Libby, MT 59923 or KNFplanrevision@fs.fed.us.