The Ashley National Forest located primarily in Utah but partially in Wyoming has not updated their management plan since 1986. The USFS has released the draft Environmental Impact Statement and the draft is open for public comment. This is the second stage in the whole management plan process. The forest already contains the High Uintas Wilderness Area. One concern that BlueRibbon always has is “buffer zones” to the wilderness which is a way for land agencies to launder wilderness protections where wilderness hasn’t been formally designated. You can see below the three proposed alternatives, yellow is general recreation. Alternative C is the most restrictive with Alternative D being the most sympathetic to recreation users. With that said, there is still more that Alternative D could be doing to provide continued access for the public.
The plan will affect both land and waters because the Green River and Flaming Gorge are within the Ashley. There is a push for more restricted access along the Green River south of the Ashley NF and you can learn more about that here. Although this part of the planning process won’t close or restrict anything site-specific it will create Recreation Opportunity Spectrum areas which will potentially limit roads and motorized use. If those areas are created then travel management that will happen later will close all routes and trails within the non-motorized areas both for summer and winter recreation.
You can read the Draft Environmental Impact Statement as well as the proposed plan and alternatives on the Forest Service website here.
The Forest Service will be holding two meetings before the comment deadline. One on January 19th 12:30-1:30 MST you can join here. This one is focused on recreation, wilderness and wild and scenic rivers.
The second will be January 25th, 12:30-1:30 MST. You can join here. This meeting is focused on active management and grazing.
BlueRibbon will be engaged on these meetings and will continue to update our members as we learn more about the plan.