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BRC NATION-WIDE ACTION ALERT PRIORITY LEVEL: CRITICAL
UPDATE! NEW COMMENT DEADLINE ON U.S. FOREST SERVICE ATTEMPT TO IMPLEMENT AN UNLAWFUL "DE-FACTO WILDERNESS" POLICY.

A few years ago, a small select group of employees in the U.S. Forest Service in Missoula, Montana developed an unlawful, de-facto Wilderness policy designed to close 1.3 million acres to all mountain bike, snowmobile and OHV use.

1.3 million acres of de-facto Wilderness established in the dead of the night, with a stroke of a pen, and without any public involvement.

Idaho's Clearwater National Forest is the first individual Forest in Region 1 (in northern Idaho and Montana) that has attempted site-specific implementation of the de-facto Wilderness policy. But it won't be the last.
We need your help. Please read the Action Alert below and take action today!

SITUATION:
The comment period deadline on the draft winter and summer Travel Plan for the Clearwater National Forest is set for February 29, 2008. This is the first time a National Forest in Region 1 has attempted site-specific implementation of their new (and unlawful) de-facto Wilderness policy. COMMENTS ARE URGENTLY NEEDED!

WHY THIS IS SO IMPORTANT:
What De-Facto Wilderness Means to You:

Clearwater NF RWA:  200,000 acres 
Number of acres of snowmobiling closed          = 200,000 acres
Miles of single track motorcycle trails closed    = 140 miles
Miles of mountain bike trails closed                 = UNKNOWN

Beaverhead-Deerlodge RWA:    174,000 acres   
Gallatin NF RWA:                       180,000 acres  
Lewis & Clark RWA:                     56,000 acres   
Lolo NF RWA:                             216,000 acres  
Kooteni NF RWA:                        117,000 acres  
Idaho Panhandle NF RWA:         138,000 acres   
Helena NF RWA:                           34,000 acres   
Flathead NF RWA:                        93,000 acres   
Custer NF RWA:                            19.000 acres  
Bitterroot NF RWA:                       76,000 acres

TOTAL CLOSED = 1,303,000 ACRES

Warning: Information above is estimated. Actual acreage figures are likely to increase when new Forest Plans become final.

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO:
Send a simple email comment to the Clearwater.
Here is a link to Clearwater's Travel Plan webpage: http://www.fs.fed.us/r1/clearwater/Projects/TravPlan/ClwTravel.htm
The email address is: comments-northern-clearwater@fs.fed.us

IMPORTANT: Put "Comments on Clearwater National Forest Travel Plan" in the subject line and be certain to include your name and address at the end of the comments. A return email address is NOT sufficient! (FS often discards "anonymous" email comments.) Copy the text below and paste into your email.

Lois Foster, Travel Plan Interdisciplinary Team Leader
Lochsa Ranger District, Kamiah Ranger Station
Rt. 2 Box 191
Kamiah, ID 83536

I would like to make the following comments on the Clearwater National Forest Travel Plan. The comment is made using the "issues in the form of questions" format. Please consider these questions in the Alternative development and please also include a full discussion of each question in the EIS. I also request the EIS include a discussion and brief analysis of previous Congressional Wilderness designations so the public may understand how the existence of motorized uses actually impacts Congress's ability to designate Wilderness. I also request that the Clearwater provide a true range of management Alternatives, including one "action" alternative that, at the very minimum, does not reduce the current motorized and mountain bike opportunity.

Question 1) In Montana Wilderness Assoc. v. U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. District Court of Montana found that Congress required the Forest Service to strike--and maintain--a balance between wilderness character and motorized use in WSAs established by that Act. Given that Congress envisioned motorized uses in Wilderness Study Areas they established, what is the Forest Service's rationale for excluding motorized uses in Recommended Wilderness Areas (RWAs)?

Question 2) If the existence of motorized uses does not preclude an area from being designated as an RWA, then what is the Forest Service's rationale for eliminating motorized uses in RWAs?

Question 3) What level of motorized or mountain bike use would disqualify an area from being a RWA?

Question 4) In the Eastern Wilderness Act, Congress designated areas Wilderness that contained motorized uses, structures, maintained roads and even sections of paved roads. Has the Forest Service studied the level of motorized uses that actually precludes Congress from designating an area as Wilderness?

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