June 15, 2015
Log It, Graze It, or Watch It Burn
Cattlemen release new billboard on forest plan revision
A new billboard on the southern end of Colville sponsored by the Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association (SCCA) is advocating for a simple strategy for managing public land. The billboard says, “Public Land: Log It, Graze It or Watch It Burn.”
The June 15 release of the billboard coincides with the anticipated release of new documents for public comment from the Colville National Forest (CNF) on their Forest Plan Revision.
Colville National Forest officials are in the process of creating a new management plan for the 1.1 million acres the forest encompasses. The current forest plan was crafted in 1988 and is at the end of its 15 year life span.
However, the Proposed Action plan that came out for the Colville National Forest in 2011 not only significantly decreased the number of board feet of lumber that could be removed from the forest (a decline from the 80 million board feet in the 1988 plan to 25-35 million board feet in the 2011 plan) but it also proposed 87,500 acres of wilderness that would include portions of the Abercrombie, Hooknose, Bald Snow, Profanity, and Hoodoo areas.
Wilderness designations in those areas are wrong-headed for several reasons, according to SCCA, including their lack of “primeval character” as defined in the 1964 National Wilderness Preservation System. That federal designation recognized wilderness as “an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain” and “an area of undeveloped Federal land retaining its primeval character and influence without permanent improvements or human habitation, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions .”
Most of the areas recommended for wilderness designation in the proposed area have been logged, grazed and otherwise improved by man, according to SCCA.
“These areas are not untouched spots and they plan a vital role in the local community by providing renewable resources,” said SCCA Vice President Scott Nielsen. “To remove any motorized items and abandon these places will create not only economic hardship for the loggers and ranchers but create situations where the overall health of the forest degrades because it cannot be managed through logging or grazing.”
SCCA President Justin Hedrick said SCCA supports the conscientious and respectful use of natural resources on National Forests for the betterment of communities and the health of the forest.
“Reducing management of the forest by shutting down logging and grazing will only create fire-ready forests, increased bug and beetle kill of tree stands,” said Hedrick. “We can’t let that happen here and watch our forest go to ruin and our communities suffer.”
The Colville National Forest plans to release a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Forest Plan Revision this summer on possible action alternatives for the plan. The draft will be available for public comment.