Monday, June 05, 2023

Group calls meeting to discuss perceived forest restrictions

| July 6, 2012 3:06 PM

An upcoming citizens meeting will be held in Lincoln County to discuss U.S. Forest Service plans to restrict access on over 2.2 million acres within the Kootenai, Lolo, and Idaho Panhandle national forests. 

The meeting, hosted by citizens group Sanders Natural Resource Council (SNRC), will take place at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 10, at the Troy Senior Center. Panelists will give a presentation about the USFS Grizzly Bear Access Amendment and what local citizens can do to keep public lands open to the public and protect resource related jobs. 

A question and comment period will be included.

Chairman Ron Olfert said SNRC sees major cause for concern about the adverse effects the Grizzly Bear management decisions will have on the local economy and private property. 

He says the access restrictions will apply to more than 2.2 million acres of land, with closures guaranteed on at least 1.2 million acres. 

“That’s why SNRC has been studying the plans in such great detail and holding these public meetings to inform the citizens of our concerns,” Olfert said.

“These decisions affect the lands many of us rely on for our livelihood. The forest service has also included private property within the federal zones. The implications of this policy are massive.”

SNRC’s Town Hall meetings have been well-attended in Sanders County as the organization builds public support for its objections to the closures.  

“We had an overflow crowd at our first meeting in Trout Creek, and a very appreciative audience.” remarked Jennifer Fielder, an SNRC advisor from Thompson Falls. 

“Since then, we have been booking larger meeting halls and adding question and comment periods so everyone has a chance to participate effectively. We have very good resource people working with us to reverse the direction the USFS is headed with these closures.”

Fielder said one of her main concerns is that the Forest Service closed the comment period before most folks even knew what was proposed. 

“We have a lot of questions and concerns,” added Fielder. “Our public agencies have a responsibility to explain these plans to the affected public and involve us in the decisions, but they are not doing a very good job of it.” 

The Forest Service comment period for the Kootenai National Forest Draft Plan officially closed on May 7.

Olfert said the more folks who support the SNRC effort, the more effective they can be in ensuring public lands are managed according to best science and the law.  

“We want our forests to be healthy, accessible, and productive. We are exercising a lawful, civil process to rightfully incorporate these considerations into federal plans.” 

For more information contact Olfert at 406 396-0022.